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Sprint Ovation U727 USB Modem

At a Glance
  • Novatel Wireless Sprint Ovation U727

    PCWorld Rating

    Offers a fast Web connection, plus bonus storage and GPS.

A cellular modem that plugs into your laptop's USB port is one of the easiest ways to get Web access almost anywhere. However, Sprint's Ovation U727 from Novatel Wireless does more: It also adds GPS and removable media storage. (The list price is $130, but rebates may be available.)

The modem supports Sprint's EvDO Revision A network, which promises average download speeds of 600 kilobits per second to 1.4 megabits per second and average upload speeds of 350 to 500 kbps. If EvDO is out of range, the modem should connect at CDMA 1xRTT speed, averaging 50 kbps.

Sprint offers two service plans: $40 for 40MB of data usage per month without a contract, or unlimited usage for $60 per month with a two-year contract.

The modem's embedded GPS receiver and software worked great; it identified my laptop's location, so I didn't need to enter my address manually in an online mapping tool. By default, the app launches Microsoft Live's maps on your browser automatically, showing both your location and those of nearby points of interest. If you prefer, you can use Google Maps, MapQuest, or Yahoo Maps instead.

The U727, which is about the size of a small pack of chewing gum, includes a slot for a microSD memory card (you must buy that separately; a 2GB card is about $40). The device works like an external drive when shuttling files between your phone and your PC.

Would I buy this product? Absolutely. It's an easy way to get a broadband connection anywhere Sprint's network is available. It's also a good option for folks who want to browse the Web during a long commute.

--Grace Aquino

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Offers a fast Web connection, plus bonus storage and GPS.

    Pros

    • Easy to install
    • Includes GPS

    Cons

    • Must buy your own microSD card
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