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Verizon's Laptop Connect (or Broadband Anywhere)

Friday, May 09, 2008 in Technical Articles (Views: 3615)
I have had the opportunity to demo the Verizon Wireless "Laptop Connect" card that was so highly touted over television and other forms of media.

Even though I have made a decision to take mine back, it is still overall a decent device and suitable for most people that need an internet connection. Here are my thoughts on the product, in no particular order, good and bad...

Resonable connection speed

This is a relative term, since there are 2 networks. Most people know about the nationwide broadband plan, but they also have NationalAccess, which connects at a much more reduced speed (it is about the speed of dialup) but is broader. Broadband you will find in your larger cities and the connect speed is great. Most of the time, if you are outside a metropolitan area, you will find NationalAccess.

Coverage isn't as good as you think

By watching the commercials, you would think that a remote lake out in upper North Dakota is covered, but I can say there are a lot of dead zones in Northern Virginia, even in some fairly populated areas. Also, coverage doesn't work once you hit most of your Washington DC tunnels, which is a rumor that Verizon won't confirm, they do have voice access in there, but not data. Don't buy into the anytime, anywhere access. I also use mine while in motion, which can cause frequent drops. If you are in a stationary position, you will do much better.

Virtually unlimited isn't unlimited

Unlike the days where dialup ruled the world, where people weren't necessarily connected at 56K, some were at 9600 baud or God forbid less. Bandwidth isn't a problem these days and companies like Microsoft take advantage. Verizon's plan is 5GB of data transfer, which they call "virtually unlimited". The truth is, you have to be careful about this and do the math when the guy trying to sell it to you says "all I do is transfer data all day and I'm only using less than half of my bandwidth". The truth is streaming media takes space as does browsing the internet. Don't forget, it's not the browsing you do that will get you, what about things like Windows Update that are always checking and downloading in the background? I will say that the application has a great way to track your usage so you won't go over, and if you do, it will cost you.

The program is controlled by a non-RAS connection

It doesn't seem so bad that they install the VZAccess Manager, but you have to use it to connect. One thing I have seen so far is that the access manager (after praising the usage feature) does mess with your network connections. I notice Internet Explorer is working in offline mode a lot more often. I can't wait to remove this software and get my laptop back.

In conclusion

The Verizon laptop connect (which is sold as a USB) is a good card for those who need a connection in a lot of places and can't otherwise get access. If you live in a remote area and can't get a connection, I don't think this will help you much. I would definately take it for a 30 day test drive.

It has been handy, and allowed me to get a lot done while waiting for public transportation to get me to and from work, but it does hit dead patches and a dropped connection can be annoying. Plus by my house, there is nothing for about the first 10 minutes of the commute or about the last 5, not counting other dead spots. Ironically while logging in to post this blog, I hit one of those dead spots.

I wouldn't recommend this to the average Joe, but definately you would need to be a professional who travels, like a salesperson who needs immediate access to the internet. If it is just e-mails you're after, I wouldn't recommend this, but would look into a Windows Mobile based PDA or phone, or if you must, a Blackberry.


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