Friday, September 18, 2009

Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go

On the mac:

- $150 exclusive from Best Buy. (update: it's now $100)
- NO Contract. You just pay for the amount of traffic you need.
$10, 10 days, 100MB
$20, 30 days, 300MB
$40, 30 days, 1GB
$60, 30 days, 5GB
- You can use prepaid top up cards or you can use a credit card. If you use a credit card just be careful and not set it up to auto re-bill you every 30 days. The whole point is this is for infrequent use. You only buy in when you need the access.
- I used this on a recent vacation. So instead of paying $15 a night at each hotel I ended up using this. Plus, it's very convenient since you can use it pretty much anywhere. I plan to only use this maybe twice a year when I travel or on vacation. Maybe once in a while like say you are waiting at the car shop this could come in handy. That's the best part. There is no contract. So if I'm not using it for several months, I'm not paying anything.
- EVDO Rev A on Sprint's 3G network. Coverage is only ok since it is sprint but it worked in all the places I needed it to so far.
- Hardware: Novatel Ovation MC760
- More secure than public wifi.
- Speeds are a lot lower than at&t on my iphone. I was only getting around an average of 600-700kbps down and 130kbps up on Still fine for surfing.
- I played around 5 hrs of World of Warcraft on this thing at the airport due to delays. Latency can get pretty high say 300ms and sometimes spiking even higher. Don't even thinking about raiding or doing instances with this thing. But for just doing solo questing and auction house stuff it's just fine.
- Over a week of light surfing and several hours of Wow playing I only used maybe 200-250MB so I think the $20 price point is the sweet spot. The crappy thing is if you don't use all your bandwidth in 30 days you just lose it. It really shouldn't expire IMO. That part feels a bit rip-offish/scammy.
- Works under windows 7 x64 and osx leopard. The device acts like a standard usb drive. It even has a very slow micro sd slot which I didn't bother messing with. Anyways, all the drivers are located right on the device for both PC and MAC.
- You must install and activate it on the PC first (Virgin's activation web site is REALLY SLOW). Once you have it all setup and working on the PC you can move the device to any pc or mac at that point. The mac drivers are pretty bare minimum with no way to see signal strength.
- Kind of nice that you can let a friend borrow it. The problem with smart phone tethering it's not like you are going to let a friend borrow your phone since you kind of need that with you all of the time.
- When you first connect it brings you to virgin's site where it clearly displays bandwidth usage and amount you have left.
- It does get pretty hot while in use. There were two occasions where I had some issues holding on to a connection (this was in osx on my mbp). It would just drop the connection, and I would have to reconnect. Most of the time the connection would hold solid for hours. I'm thinking this is more with sprint coverage and my current location than anything hardware related.
- iPhone 3.1 kills off the easy tethering hack so here is a legit way to get broadband anywhere for your laptop. Granted you have to carry the additional usb evdo modem around but that isn't a big deal considering you are already carrying around a laptop to be able to use it.

Overall: Recommended if your needs fit this particular usage pattern. Great for occasional use, no contract, gets a bit hot, connection/coverage/signal strength/speed/latency is average for sprint evdo but adequate for my purposes and you can play WOW over it (for the most part).

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