USBConnect Lightning works great on the MBA

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Nak, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. Nak macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2008
    Portland, OR
    I just upgraded my USBConnect 881U (AT&T) to the Lightning and it works great.

    Unlike the 881, the Lightning has to "lay down" when plugged into the MBA instead of standing up. This does not appear to hurt wireless performance.

    This modem is a good deal smaller than the 881. It's also noticeably faster and feels more like a cable modem connection from a few years ago. This is in Portland, OR so your mileage may vary. Also, unlike the 881, the Lightning doesn't have a rechargeable battery in it (or at least not one that is user-replaceable). It also has a MicroSD card slot so you can use it as a USB thumb drive at the same time.

    Probably the most important thing is that the software that's included in the modem installs just fine on 10.6.2 and displays the signal strength bars in the menubar. One difference from the 881 in this respect is that unplugging the Lightning does not cause the bars in the menubar to go away, they just gray out.

    The firmware in the modem as delivered to me was not the newest version, and I had to get this from Sierra Wireless by searching for Windows software for this model as there is no firmware updater for Mac OSX. I could not use my WinXP VM running under Fusion to update the modem and had to use a real XP PC to do this instead.

    I highly recommend this modem for the MBA unless you're an AT&T hater. ;)

  2. r6girl Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Sep 6, 2003
    I hadn't seen that addition to AT&T's 3G modem line-up. I have the Mercury, which is nice since it has a microSD card slot so it can double as a thumb drive as well (I have an 8GB card in it), but it's also a pain since I need to use a short USB extension cord to plug it into my MBA since it's too fat to fit directly.

    I'm still waiting for the MiFi people to make a GSM version of the device that can be used on AT&T - it would be really nice to not have to plug anything into my MBA at all and leave its USB port completely free for other stuff.

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