Need recommendation: expresscard/34 data card for MBP

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by aleck, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. aleck macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2006
    #1
    In my country, there's finally an acceptable (read: sensible to pay) option for 3G internet access: GSM/UMTS 3G internet (Serbia, in Europe)

    Since the expresscard/34 slot is still unused for me, I'm thinking of buying data card for it. However, I previously had two different expresscard/34 items - one CF card reader and one eSATA adapter - and quite a bit of problems with both. Lockups, resets, unusual copy errors, badly variable transfer rates etc.

    Either I have some bad luck or this expresscard/34 business is not properly supported in Mac OS (I'm using latest Leopard).

    Does anyone have recommendation for data card that work reliably? By that I mean hot-plug/unplug works with no issues and there's not driver issues, poor data transfer rates etc.

    So far, I have found these:

    http://www.huawei.com/mobileweb/en/products/view.do?id=400 - Huawei are notorious for bad Mac drivers, so I'm inclined to test yet another (already got bad experience with their E220 USB 3G modem).

    http://www.option.com/en/products/products/wireless-data-cards/?d=1 - plenty of stuff, not sure which is right for me.

    http://www.novatelwireless.com/inde...dpa-networks&catid=1:merlin-pc-cards&Itemid=8 - I know nothing about these

    I can manage importing from just about any place, most likely option is to buy in UK (there's practically none of these offered in Serbia).
     
  2. Attonine macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #2
    I have been using a Novatel Merlin XU870 for about 2 years. Works fine, pretty much plug and play. I don't remember having to use any plug-in to get it recognised.

    The only problem, and I think this applies to just about all 3G modems and Apple, is that there is never any utility available for OS X, but always for windows. This means that you cannot receive any messages from your service provider if, for example, you are reaching your download limit or your credit is running low. For me it means every month I have to put the sim into a mobile phone, top up the credit, and then put it back in the modem. Windows users can do all this from a utility provided by Novatel.
     
  3. aleck thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2006
    #3
    Thanks Attonine

    There's a software called Launch2Net for Mac, which I got when my company provided me with T-Mobile USB modem while on the business trip in UK - it was E220 that I got bad experience with, of poor transfer rates and too many disconnects (as opposed to using it on Windows where it was great, from the same location).

    That software offers stuff you mentioned, but can't really remember what exactly as I never needed them (it was on monthly plan).
     
  4. Attonine macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    As far as I can remember Launch2net is just a kind of location manager for when your 3G modem is attached. It also has activity graphs. You don't need it, it's a waste of money. Even if I got it free i wouldn't use it because I just set up a location in the network preferences and I have iStat menus which shows connection activity. Unless Launch2net has changed I don't think it allows you to send or receive messages from your service provider.

    As a reference, I regularly get download speeds of over 100KB/s and often bursts of upto 300KB/s. This is with upgraded 7.2 Mb/s firmware (which you have to do on a windows machine) on an HSDPA network. Obviously it varies dependant upon the network load at the time. The 3G modem and service is multiple times better than my 512Kb/s satellite connection which I also have - and cheaper! The only advantage of the satelite connection is that for large downloads it is more constant, the 3G network can sometimes drop out or slow down too much, interrupting a download. VOIP is better over the 3G too.
     

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