Sprint Novatel Wireless Ovation U727 Review

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Connecting to the Internet has never been easier, thanks to the Sprint Novatel Wireless Ovation U727. That is right, now you can access email, photos or the Web from the convenience of your home, office or while on the go. The U727 is different then most Express Cards though because it connects to your computer via USB and it has an integrated microSD slot for storage.

U727 Specifications:

  • CDMA EV-DO (Rev. A/0), 1xRTT (800/1900 MHz)
  • USB interface
  • High-performance flip-up loop design antenna
  • GPS-Enabled
  • Sprint Mobile Broadband software
  • LED status indicator
  • Integrated microSD slot
  • Notebook monitor clip and extended USB cable for antenna
  • Dimensions: 2.76" x 0.98" x 0.47"
  • Weight: 1.1 oz


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Design and Build

The U727 is a 2-in-1 device with a microSD slot creating not only a wireless high-speed data access device, but a storage drive as well. It provides a great wireless connection for your notebook or tablet. It has a sleek compact design and it feels more solid then my Verizon Wireless V640 Express Card.


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The U727 is compatible with Windows Vista, XP, 2000; Mac OS and Linux OS. It plugs in to your computer’s USB port and is ready to go. It has a high-performance flip-up (loop design) antenna not the standard flag-style you see on most Express Cards. It also has a monitor clip and extended USB cable, so you can clip the antenna to your notebook’s monitor for better signal strength.


The U727 plugged into my Asus. Notice the microSD slot. (view large image)

Considering it only weighs a little over one ounce and is only about three inches long it doesn’t get in the way. If you use the monitor clip, you won’t even notice it and since it has a solid design unlike most Express Cards it is more durable. I wasn’t afraid to bump it or store it in my backpack.

Features

The U727 is designed to operate on CDMA supporting Sprint’s EV-DO Rev A network. However, in areas where Sprint’s Rev A coverage is not available it will work on Rev 0 and 1xRTT. Sprint claims average download speeds of 600 kbps and average upload speeds of 300-500 kbps. Their claim is very accurate and in fact my average download speeds were higher. I never did get close to their claimed peak download speeds of 3.1 Mbps. Then again it really depends on your coverage area.

The GPS feature on the U727 is great. It works a lot better then I expected it to. Under the Connection Manager you go to the Menu and then click on the Location and Search Services. When you click on this you get a dialog box that lets you put in your location and search for close restaurants, gas stations, etc. It also pinpoints your location with latitude and longitude readings and shows you where you are on a map.

The microSD slot is a nice feature as well. It is a bonus to be able to store up to 4GB of data while surfing the Web. The microSD card is sold separately though.

The LED status light lets you know how productive you are as well. When the light is green then you are good to connect to Sprint’s Mobile Broadband service, but when the light is red, you are a no-go. Meaning the Connection Manager will pop up an error and let you know why you can not connect. This happened to me a few times because I forgot to turn off my Wi-Fi, so I automatically connected to my office’s wireless.

Sprint Connection Manager

The Sprint Connection Manager is very user friendly. Once you install the software you can connect the USB interface and the dialog box pops up. The software takes no time to install and has a step by step guide. If you are familiar with Verizon’s VZAccess Manager, you can see Sprint’s Manager is much simpler.

I never had any problems staying connected or picking up a signal. The Menu selection lets you check for software updates, device information, connection history and change your settings. This is also where the GPS feature is located, Location Search and Services. Besides that, there isn’t much more to the Connection Manager, just your basics.

Speed

Speed is one of the main reasons users purchase a wireless card. You want it to be fast and who knows if what the manufacturer reports is true. Verizon is faster then Sprint, Sprint is faster then Verizon, we have all heard this a million times. So who has the fastest network?

The Ovation U727 running Speakeasy Speed Test on the Chicago Server:

The U727 did better then Sprint’s claimed average speeds and better then my Verizon V640 Express Card, but it isn’t Rev A compatible. However, I tested the U727 against two computers in our office that had embedded Rev A cards, one had Verizon and the other Sprint.

The embedded Verizon card with Rev A didn’t do better then the U727. It had a download speed of 1030 kbps and upload speed of 435 kbps. Then again, as I mentioned before our office doesn’t always get a very good connection on Verizon’s network. In fact it was only reading two bars for signal strength. Overall a close comparison though.

The embedded Sprint card with Rev A did do better then the U727 with average download speeds of 1600 kbps and a top speed of 2001 kbps. The average upload speed was 404 kbps. The embedded cards did put up some competition for the U727 and I know Verizon’s newest Express Card with Rev A, the V740 is just the same.

Note: All of these tests were ran on the Chicago Server from Speakeasy.net. We also had some low download and upload speeds, so the tests are an average score. We had to go outside our building to get better coverage and scores, so moving around a bit does help.

Coverage

It really depends on the area you are using the device. The Sprint U727 blew my Verizon V640 Card out of the water at my office. My Verizon coverage isn’t very good there though. At home I can barely connect using my Verizon Card without having problems or staying in one part of the house. Not the case with the U727. I traveled everywhere with it and had no problems, it always had at least two signal bars and I never got disconnected.


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After doing our Speakeasy speed test I realized that in different locations you will get different connectivity issues. Even just stepping outside your office or house could make a huge difference. The U727 is just the same. Sprint does have a large network and coverage area, so I am sure most users will not have any problems.

Conclusion

Being able to connect to the Internet anywhere you go is great. There is no need to worry about those business trips when you need to retrieve that email or being on campus when you need to pull up your homework. The U727 connects to your USB port and your ready to go. I like having the external wireless card much better then the internal cards because you can switch them out between computers and they seem to get better coverage. However, I would still stick with your home DSL for downloading big files because it is faster. Overall I am very pleased with the U727 and sorry I had to send it back because it came in handy when I was traveling.

Pros

  • Compact sleek design
  • Integrated GPS
  • Micro SD slot
  • User friendly software
  • Durable loop antenna design

Cons

  • Connection Manager doesn’t offer many settings
  • Monitor clip a little lose on some computers

Pricing and Availability

The Ovation U727 by Novatel Wireless can be purchased from Sprint’s website for $79.99 after instant savings, mail-in-rebate and a two year agreement. Although, retail pricing on it is $279.99.

 

 


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