Wednesday November 15, 2006 8:00 am
Verizon V640 EVDO ExpressCard Review: MacBook Pro
For anyone that has picked up a MacBook Pro, or any other laptop computer that has replaced the PCMCIA card with the newer ExpressCard format, you will be happy to hear that a couple of options have become available for getting on the Internet while on the go. New ExpressCards from both Dell and Verizon have surfaced, giving anyone with an ExpressCard slot the ability to resume their mobile tech lifestyle. We got one of the new Verizon V640 ExpressCards and have set it up and tested it, and we are here to report back with our results. Check out the full review of the WWAN V640 after the jump.
We could hardly contain the excitement of opening up the V640 ExpressCard (see V640 unboxing images), as we have been waiting for it for what seems like forever. The packaging is pretty minimal with this device, as all you will find inside is the ExpressCard itself, the instruction booklet, and the installation disc. You will immediately notice that the antenna can be flipped up, and that there is an extra port on the side of the unit. This allows you to connect an external antenna to the device for even greater reception.
USING THE V640 EXPRESSCARD
Going through the V640 setup process on a MacBook Pro was a snap. It was as simple as inserting the installation disc, following the prompts - none of which require much interaction, and inserting the card. We caught the Verizon V640 installation process, and created a gallery of images. Here are a couple of images from the gallery:
By the time you complete the software installation, the V640 ExpressCard is plugged in and ready to connect. Simply hit the “Connect WWAN” button, and within seconds you are surfing the web. Very smooth, indeed. You can manage your connection to Verizon’s BroadbandAccess/NationalAccess service through VZAccess, or through the Apple menu bar.
So, the benefit of EVDO is that you are able to connect at broadband speeds using your Verizon connection. Now, in theory, the cards can hit speeds of over 500kbps - but this is the real world, where different areas mean different levels of functionality. Where I tested from, I had 2-3 bars of service, and that resulted in speeds of 370kbps down, and 114kbpx up. Seriously though, for mobile broadband in just about every major city, and a fallback to NationalAccess (1xRTT) when out of EVDO range, that isn’t too shabby. Of course, if we were in an area that gave us a full four bars, speed would have been even better. When a little closer to downtown Seattle, with the full four bars, our speed increased to 448kbps down on average.
For those who own a portable computer with an ExpressCard slot, the Verizon Novatel V640 is a godsend. Finally, no longer is there a need to tether to an EVDO handset over Bluetooth or USB - just plug in the V640 and you are ready to roll. Not sure why it took so long for Novatel to get these out the door and into the hands of Verizon, but what can you do? Now, the downside here is that EV-DO Rev. A should be coming along soon enough, and this card won’t support the new faster speeds that the infrastructure will bring. Still, at just $99 with a two year contract, you can’t go wrong. Of course, the monthly price of $59.99 for BroadbandAccess is a bit much, so we hope to see Verizon bring that down a tad sometime soon. T’would be nice. All in all, the Verizon V640 is a solid card, and gets great speeds on it’s own. The external antenna is a welcome bonus, but we think just about everyone out there will be happy with the purchase. If you want to look into purchasing one, Michael over at EVDOinfo is the man to talk to, so they are a great place to start.