AT&T USBConnect Mercury laptop broadband adapter card

The idea of going wireless anywhere – not just where you have WiFi – is appealing. And the adapter cards keep getting better. I tried out this 3G card from AT&T on both Windows XP SP2 and SP3 machines – with SP2 you’ll need two reboots to get everything installed. Near the business end of the connector is the SIM card that enables it to work with the AT&T network. The speeds are much better than the 3G connection on my iPhone, with the claims from AT&T of 700-1400 kbps down and 500-1200 kbps uploads about twice what I observed on my 3G iPhone. One oddity – it didn’t like the tracert command in Windows but could do command line FTP transfers just fine. There is also a simplified text messaging application so you can compose texts and send them on the computer keyboard.

If you need on-the-go Web surfing and email, this is a solid product, once you get past the installation. Macs use a different connection manager that comes directly from Sierra Wireless (the makers of the adapter), while Windows uses one that has some added features to help you make free use of AT&T WiFi hot spots. The initial cost of the card is rebated if you get a two-year data plan. If you don’t, the upfront cost is $250. Either way, you still have to pay $60 a month, which includes a 5 GB monthly usage cap before you get charged on additional usage —  so if you are going to be transferring a lot of files, this may not be the solution for you. 

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