Sprint’s EX720 EV-DO ExpressCard: Hands on first look

Mar 6, 2007
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The arrival of Sprint’s EX720 EV-DO ExpressCard made by Novatel couldn’t have come at a better time. Apple have recently released software drivers to natively support the EX720, meaning Mac owners are now free to revel in the joy of Rev.A mobile broadband.

Yet to receive blessing from the FCC,The "trial device" which arrived courtesy of Sprint yesterday. My initial impression was wow; it’s really small and sturdy. Check out the images and unboxing video below to get a better idea of size in comparison to Sprint’s U720 USB modem.

Activating the EX720 should be a cinch for laptops running Windows, but poses a problem for Mac owners. There’s no way to activate the card other than plugging it into your laptop and letting the Sprint Connection Manager do its magic. Thing is, the Sprint Connection Manager is Windows-only; so how does a Mac owner get around this? Either use a friend’s laptop with a built-in Express Card slot or install Windows using Apple’s Bootcamp. Parallels running under Mac OSX is unable to see the card; so don’t waste your time.


So you’re probably wondering what the reception quality and speed is like? While Phoenix isn’t an EV-DO revision A. market, I was still getting remarkable upstream and downstream throughput. Latency test will not be performed since Phoenix is not a Rev A. market yet. I'll post results between non-Rev A. vs Rev A. soon.

This following speed tests via dslreports.com were conducted from my home in Scottsdale, AZ:

http://www.gospeedtest.com/index.html

  • Test 1: 497 kb/s down / 89 kb/s up
  • Test 2: 463 kb/s down / 98 kb/s up
  • Test 3: 403 kb/s down / 57 kb/s up
  • Average: 454 kb/s down / 81 kb/s up

http://phoenix-speedtest.sprintbbd.net/speedtest.cgi

  • Test 1: 483 kb/s down / 60 kb/s up
  • Test 2: 873 kb/s down / 109 kb/s up
  • Test 3: 1,122 kb/s down / 140 kb/s up
  • Average: 826 kb/s down / 103 kb/s up

The Sprint EX720 ExpressCard should available pretty soon for as low as $179.99 with a two-year subscriber agreement. If you're willing to sign up for a two-year contract you should be able to get unlimited usage for $59.95 a month. If you're not running that rich, then $39.99 a month gets you a 40MB cap, while that same unlimited data contract with a one-year subscriber agreement is a not-inconsiderable $79.99 per month.

At the time of this review the EX720 is yet to receive FCC approval.

Sprint’s EX720 EV-DO ExpressCard: Hands on first look

Verdict: Sprint's EX720 EV-DO Rev.A ExpressCard is a godsend and a must-have for every road warrior. If you own a UMPC or laptop without an ExpressCard slot, as long as you've got a USB connector free then Sprint’s U720 USB modem is your only option. The drawback with the U720 is it’s relatively flimsy and cumbersome to use, not to mention the fact that it sticks precariously out of your computer. The EX720 ExpressCard is a much more solid unit and more durable, offering the same performance in a far more convenient form-factor, and definitely receives the SlashGear mark of approval.

[rating:4.5/5]

Sprint’s EX720 EV-DO ExpressCard: Hands on first look

Sprint’s EX720 EV-DO ExpressCard: Hands on first look

Enjoy the unboxing video of the Sprint EX720

Quick demo video

What’s next? The EX720 will be my travel companion over the next few weeks, so expect more speed test results and well as follow-up report on the AGPS feature.


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