Need for Speed

speedtest I’m often out of the office with my tablet where I don’t have wired or wireless connectivity. Where I’m at may have a wired or wireless network, but often they don’t want me to use it, presumably for security reasons. Or, in the case of airports or other public buildings, they have a wireless network, but the cost per minute is more than the Emperors Club VIP.

No problem. Tethering, or Plan B told you how I used a Windows Mobile device and Internet Sharing to enable my tablet to access the Internet when my hotel’s wired (and wireless) connection stopped working.

However, sometimes I’d rather not lug around a Windows Mobile device just so I can access the Internet with my tablet. Further, the combo of my tablet, the WinMo device and a USB cable (Bluetooth is doable but results in a slower connection) can be a bit clumsy, such as when sitting in a chair at the airport gate waiting for my plane to board.

The alternative is a data modem. Using Novatel Wireless products as an example, your choice of connections are USB, PCMCIA or ExpressCard.

All my tablets have an ExpressCard slot, some ExpressCard/34, others ExpressCard/54. Since an ExpressCard/34 can fit in an ExpressCard/54 slot, I chose that form factor. You also can buy adapters for ExpressCard to USB and ExpressCard to PCMCIA.

merlin_x950d_125 I chose the Novatel Merlin 950D (pictured). It’s pricey. But it supports HSUPA as well as HSPDA, and seems about as “future proof” as these devices can be these days.

The package includes the ExpressCard modem, a small user’s guide and a CD I haven’t had to look at yet. I inserted the 950D into my XT’s ExpressCard/54 slot. The 950D was recognized, drivers were installed, and it was ready to be used.

My first priority was a speed test using, naturally, Speedtest.net. The first picture shows the results, which of course will differ depending on the connection available where you are. While I was smack in the middle of Downtown L.A., Speedtest.net chose a server in San Jose. My guess was this related to my using the AT&T data connection. As you can see, my need for speed was satisfied. And I haven’t even experimented yet with an external antenna, which could come in handy in areas where the connection is not as good as the middle of Downtown L.A.

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