Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Review: Verizon Wireless USB720 Broadband Modem

NOTE: This review was not solicited by anyone; the device was purchased with my own money.

A while back, I decided to purchase the Samsung i730 cell phone, in the hopes that I'd be able to use it's tethering ability to get on the Internet with my laptop. Little did I know that the i730 had a problem with the internal dialer that prevents it from staying connected for very long. I got around the connectivity issues with T-Mobile's Vista promotion, but since that expired at the end of April, I needed to find an alternate solution.

So I shlepped my way over to the local Verizon store to check out my options. I basically had to choose between three interfaces: PC Card, ExpressCard, or USB. Even though I really wanted an ExpressCard EVDO modem, I was told that the USB version was the most popular. The salesperson also suggested that only the USB version could be plugged into a desktop, which would come in really handy when my Internet goes out at the house.

Fortunately for me, Verizon just rolled out EVDO Rev. A here in Phoenix, so my speeds are lightening fast. And the USB modem comes with a dual-plug extension cable. Why dual plugs? Because if you're in an area with poor reception, you can plug both plugs into separate USB ports, and give the modem twice the power. It's pretty sweet.

The CD included with the modem did not work with Vista, but fortunately the box points you to a website to download updated drivers and connection software. It was a little difficult to get it working on my 64-bit Vista install, but I just bypassed one of the drivers that wasn't loading, and it worked fine.

So far, the performance has been fantastic. I consistently get 1MB down *and* up, which really shocked me. My upload speed is actually faster than my cable Internet at home, which totally floored me. It means I can be just as productive on the road, without having to deal with the insecurity of T-Mobile hotspots.

So while the device itself performs better than I expected, Verizon's service plan leaves a lot to be desired. For starters, I'm already paying for the unlimited data plan on my phone... but that doesn't prevent me from having to pay $59 a month for their "unlimited" plan for this device as well. I say "unlimited" because the service is really capped at 5GB worth of transfer. Any more than that, and you're obviously pirating music or something and you can be terminated without notice. Hopefully Cox's WiMAX rollout in the next 9-12 months will force Verizon to re-think double-charging customers for its data services.

Even though the service is expensive, the device itself is well worth it. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to free themselves from being chained to their desk, or for that matter, their local Starbucks.

Posted on May 31 2007, 03:38 AM by Robert McLaws
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Comments

  • fred said:

    My USB720 performs well, but is an incredible power hog. It reduces my 3 hour battery to about an hour. I think the power management could be improved tremendously.

    June 13, 2007 2:05 PM
  • Lazaros said:

    interesting

    June 16, 2007 8:30 PM
  • Chrysostomos said:

    interesting

    July 9, 2007 3:50 AM
  • Aiolos said:

    interesting

    July 9, 2007 5:02 AM
  • Vphase said:

    You're upstream was around 1mbps?! I'll have to check this out.

    July 14, 2007 7:16 AM
  • margie said:

    "The CD included with the modem did not work with Vista, but fortunately the box points you to a website to download updated drivers and connection software. It was a little difficult to get it working on my 64-bit Vista install, but I just bypassed one of the drivers that wasn't loading, and it worked fine."

    Could you let me know where that website is? my usb270 gets a full 5 bars...but very slow processing email or loading web pages. I don't have the original box with me. I have vista ultimate not 64bit.

    Thanks for any help - email nibbana@charter.net

    margie

    July 23, 2007 4:15 PM
  • Lisa said:

    Will the usb modem work on a desktop?

    August 13, 2007 10:25 AM
  • Rob Cottrill said:

    Thanks for the info.  I just bought the modem and service in Atlanta and I'm getting about 400 download and 200 upload

    August 16, 2007 10:20 PM
  • Rob Cottrill said:

    Lisa will work on a desktop just need a usb port..getting about 750 download on my desktop in ATL

    August 16, 2007 10:22 PM
  • Courtney said:

    I purchased one the other day from best buy.  i moved cross country and do not have a laptop but a mac tower.  i'm living in a really old hotel with no internet connection.  this is one of the best purchases i've ever made.

    August 26, 2007 2:54 PM