Monday, November 2, 2009

Novatel Wireless MC950D 7.2 USB Modem – HSDPA/HSUPA/UMTS Networks Review

When I purchased my Acer 8.9" netbook, I wanted to also purchase a USB data modem that would enable my netbook to be truly portable and allow me to access the internet from almost anywhere regardless of whether there was a wifi hotspot available.

Since I had a very large data plan from my cellular service provider that with my phone was next to impossible to use over 2GB and my cellular service provider was offering a locked version of the Novatel Wireless MC950D, I opted to purchase it using my carrier's hardware upgrade system. Even though the device would be locked, I didn't have any immediate plans on using another carrier's SIM card in it.

Included in the box is an installation CD (which contains the Mac installation instructions, user guides, and quick start guide), the cellular carrier's welcome kit (which includes some information about the carrier as well as a new SIM card), a USB extension cable, and a hook holder for the device which is meant to hold the device onto a LCD monitor.

Since my netbook was running Windows XP, installation of the USB data modem was quick and easy. I slid my SIM card into the USB modem and inserted it into one of my netbook's USB ports. My netbook instantly recognized the USB data modem and the Windows installation software automatically launched from the USB stick.

After the installation finished, I rebooted the netbook. When I logged into my netbook, the Novatel Wireless connection software launched and I was prompted for the security PIN for my SIM card (since my SIM card had the security PIN enabled). After entering my SIM's security PIN, the USB data modem flashed for a few seconds before connecting to my carrier's data network. I went to to test the speed that I was getting with the device and I was getting more than 4 Mbits/second download and more than 750kbits/second upload. I was very satisfied with the speed that I was getting with the device (and I'm still very satisfied with the speed that I'm getting with the device).

Currently, the speed that I'm getting from this device on Rogers' wireless network according to is:

My current result is:

With the speed that I'm able to get most of the time, I don't experience any issues with watching YouTube videos or accessing my Slingbox. I've also tried to use VoIP using my carrier's data network and because of the high latency, conversations sometimes get annoying (imagine two people talking at the same time since there is a delay/pause and each person doesn't know the other person is speaking). My feeling is that this has more to do with my carrier's network and less to do with the Novatel Wireless MC950D USB modem but I thought that I would still mention it.

The only negative comment that I have about the Novatel Wireless MC950D is that it gets hot very fast. However, I've kept it plugged into my netbook's USB port for over 24 hours and never had any issues so there shouldn't be any problems. Since the device sticks out of the USB port, it can be damaged easily (or the USB port that it is connected to can get damaged). However, the device does come with a USB extension cord as well as a monitor clip holder for the device so it can easily be placed in a safer place.

One of the benefits of this device is that where-ever I go within my carrier's data coverage area, I have access to the internet on my netbook. When I was staying at a Canadian hotel and the hotel was charging me approximately $15/day for internet access, I plugged the MC950D into my netbook's USB port and I had internet access (and it didn't cost me anything extra). The internet speed in the other Canadian cities is largely dependent on the city but in the Canadian cities that I've visited, I found the internet speed to be acceptable. Often times even when the hotel is giving internet access for free, I find that I'm able to get faster speeds using Rogers' data network and this USB data modem.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.

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