The Sprint Novatel Merlin C777 is a 2-in-1 broadband card aimed at users who prefer or require older model cards. Since it utilizes either your computer’s ExpressCard or PCMCIA card slots, it frees up USB ports for other devices.
Other key features are an external antenna port for getting better signal and official support is available for Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Mac OS X 10.4.11 (& higher) and Linux.
Stuff You Should Know (Good & Bad)
Design & Aesthetics
Like most ExpressCards & PC Cards, the Merlin C777 extends less than an inch past your laptop when inserted. This gives it and other cards a natural advantage over USB broadband cards since it’s harder to break if something bumped into it.
How I Broke My USB Broadband Card
Since ExpressCards don’t have a thin USB swivel port, they’re much more durable
Weighing in at 1.65 ounces, it’s just a bit heavier than a slice of bread. Pretty light stuff. Also, in it’s PC Card form, it’s about 2.1" wide (a bit smaller than a Blackberry Curve 8900) while just over an inch in ExpressCard form (just over half the width of a credit card.
- 2-in-1 ExpressCard/PCMCIA
- Mobile Broadband Rev A Compatible
- GPS Enabled: Supports Sprint Location Services (Locate and Search leveraging the GPS-chipset in the Card)
- Compatibility: Macintosh OS X, Linux as well as Windows® Vista, XP and 2000
- Dimensions: 4.7” x 2.1” x .75”
- Weight: 1.65 ounces
- Chipset: Qualcomm QSC6085
- Interface: 32-Bit CardBus Electrical Interface and ExpressCard USB Interface
- Dual-Band: 800 MHz/1.9 GHz
- Operating Voltage: Max: 500 mA; Idle 115 mA
- External Antenna Port: Yes
Like most ExpressCards & PC Cards, the Merlin C777 isn’t feature packed. If it’s any consolation, you do have access to GPS applications for free using the on-board GPS.
While I wouldn’t recommend it for turn-by-turn navigation, it can be pretty handy if your tire blew up on the interstate while going 80 mph and you needed to locate the nearest town to tow your car to.
What’s Speed & Coverage Like?
The Merlin C777 is built to operate on Sprint’s 3G mobile broadband network. Here’s a synopsis of what to expect with speed and coverage depending on which network you’re on:
Mobile Broadband Provider
|Advertised Download Speed||600 Kbps – 1.4 Mbps (3G)|
|Real (Tested) Download Speed||600 Kbps – 1.4 Mbps (3G)
|Advertised Upload Speed||350 Kbps – 500 Kbps (3G)|
|Real (Tested) Upload Speed||250 Kbps – 425 Kbps (3G)
|Regional or National?||National (3G)
If you’ll be using Sprint’s 3G network, you’ll definitely want to read "How Much is 5GB & Is It Enough" to avoid $51.20/GB overage charges.
Should You Get It?
The Merlin C777 is a great choice for no frills mobile broadband.
If you work in cramped airports, trains, buses or coffee shops, then it’s a device you could even leave plugged in (though not recommended) without fear of damaging your computer.
Coupled with Sprint’s SmartView application which can load at startup, you can have an ‘always-on’ 3G connection for life on the go.
The Merlin C777 costs $80 at the time of this review from Sprint.