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Review: Novatel Ovation U727 for Sprint

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What would I have done the last few months without my precious Novatel broadband dongle from Sprint? I would have had a hard time bringing you news from the halls of CES without trekking over to the blounge. We would have been sans photos from the Macworld keynote. I also would not have been able to post videos while waiting at JFK for our adventures at CeBIT. I think you get the point. Road warriors, I understand your plight.

The Ovation U727 from Novatel on Sprint’s Rev. A network has been a blessing to say the least. Most of us have experienced Sprint’s EV-DO network so there isn’t much need to comment on that. It’s fast and gets the job done.

Installation was a breeze even on my MacBook and MacBook Pro, but maybe I got lucky since Novatel had it all set up for me. Reader CB seemed to have a hard time getting it to work, but soon found that a simple adjustment during setup had him up and running. It takes about 5 seconds for my MBP to recognize the USB dongle is connected before I can browse the Net, which isn’t as much of a hassle as it sounds, but I’m not sure how long it takes other USB dongles to register. Overall, setup was easy, but Mac support is still lacking. For instance, there’s no connection meter that shows up on my menu bar, but that’s fine by me. I’m sure it runs fine on Windows machines.

The addition of the microSD slot on the device came in handy on more than one occasion but I mostly used it to transfer photos and videos from my BlackBerry Curve and Helio Ocean. When said port is filled with a memory card (up to 4GB) it appears as an external drive where you can transfer data like you would using any other drive.

The flip-up loop antenna didn’t seem to make much difference and I usually had it down. I was afraid it (or someone) would get snagged on it, causing it to break or remove the entire dongle from the USB port.

The fact that the U727 is GPS-enabled is great, but it was never a feature I used or relied upon to tell me where I was. I’m sure at some point I’ll probably need to use the feature but as of posting this review, I have not. It’s just an added bonus at this point.

It’s super lightweight at just 0.07-lbs and is small enough that I usually keep it in my pocket for fear it would get swallowed in the black hole that is my gear bag. Dimensions are as follows: 2.8- x 1- x .5-inch. It’s tiny. About the size of a pack of gum.

It was especially nice for me because my MB lacks support for any broadband card and USB dongles are the only devices it supports. My only gripe was that it hogged the USB port space and caused me to basically lose the use of a second port while it was plugged in, but the included USB extender cable easily remedied that. I have no such issues on my MBP since there is one port on each side. Even plugging the dongle into a USB hub didn’t hinder its performance. I suppose the other gripe I had with the U727 was the fact that it was a dongle and protrudes from my laptop where as a broadband card would sit much closer to the body with less risk of losing contact or being broken.

All in all the Ovation U727 was a delight to have and to use in the last few months. I hate to have to give it up, but I’m sure Novatel has some new devices in the works that will send me into a tizzy. The U727 is also available on the Verizon wireless network and I highly recommend it. Of the two available USB dongles on Sprint, it’s definitely the clear-cut winner.

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