U300 Broadband Card | Sprint 4G Review

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The Franklin Wireless U300 is one of the first broadband cards on Sprint’s 4G network.

With tested speeds of 4.16 Mbps downloading and up to 0.78 Mbps uploading, it falls within Sprint’s advertised speeds.

Like most Sprint 4G devices, it can receive both 3G and 4G signals allowing you access to two networks for the price of one.

By far, the biggest advantage the U300 has is unlimited mobile broadband on Sprint’s 4G network.

 

Stuff You Should Know (Good & Bad)

Design & Aesthetics

The U300 is practically the same size as the Verizon 4G UML290.

At about the length of a credit card and half the width of a Blackberry 8900 Curve, it’ll fit in most pockets (excluding the ‘5th’ pocket in jeans reserved for a small set of keys).

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When stacked on the Sierra 4G Overdrive and the Blackberry 8900, it’s thinner than the Overdrive and similar to the Curve’s thickness with a protective case covering it.

 

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Features

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The Sprint 4G U300’s biggest features are 3G/4G dual compatibility, a 180 degree rotating (swivel) USB port, and cradle expansion kit for getting better signal.

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Instead of just a USB extension cable, the Sprint 4G U300 comes with a cradle that allows it to perch on top of your laptop’s screen much like a bird would on a window sill (minus the sharp claws).

Here’s a step-by-step illustration of the cradle being put into action:

 

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Ta-Da!

For the astute observers, you’ll notice that the USB extension cable has two USB ports.

The extra USB port is to draw extra power from your laptop or PC in the event that the first port you plugged in can’t supply the device with enough power.

If you need to do this, keep an eye on your battery life.

As always, I’ve included some techy details just in case you need them. If not, skip past to see the unboxing and speed test videos below:

Technical Specifications for U300

Standard:

  • IEEE 802.16e Cor2 D3(Wave II) +
  • EVDO or HSDPA

Frequency:

  • WiMAX 2.5 – 2.7GHz (2.3/3/5GHz, TBD)
  • EVDO Rev A 850/1900MHz
  • HSDPA 2.1GHz

OS Requirements:

  • Windows 7/XP/Vista
  • No Mac support (Mac users should opt for a Sierra Overdrive instead)

Data Throughput:

  • WiMAX – DL: 28Mbps, UL: 5Mbps
  • EVDO Rev-A – DL: 3.1Mbps, UL: 1.8Mbps
  • HSDPA – DL: 7.Mbps, UL: 384Kbps

MIMO, Beemforming:

  • Supported

H-ARQ:

  • Supported

UICC Interface:

  • Supported

Max Output Power:

  • 23 dBm

Max Power Consumption:

  • 2500mW

Interface:

  • USB 2.0

Size:

  • 92.5mm x 33.5mm x 12mm

Form Factor:

  • USB Dongle (DBDM)

Operating Voltage:

  • 5V DC

For drivers, downloads, updates and the whole kitchen sink, check out Sprint’s support page for the Franklin U300.

 

 

What’s In The Box?

Since this is a mobile broadband rental unboxing, the contents of you box may be slightly different depending on whether you rent from Event Radio Rentals featured here or purchase from Sprint .

The usual suspects:

  • U300 3G/4G USB Modem
  • USB Extension Cable & Cradle
  • Tips, Hints & Tricks Guide
  • Product Safety & Warranty Guide

 

 

What’s Speed & Coverage Like?

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The U300 runs on both Sprint’s 4G and 3G networks.

The speed and coverage you get will depend on whether you’re in a 3G or 4G coverage area as well as the quality of the reception of either network in that spot.

With that mini-disclaimer out there, I took the Sprint 4G U300 on a test run got good speeds. While they don’t beat cable internet or Verizon’s 4G network, they certainly do beat 3G speeds. Plus, with unlimited mobile broadband, it’s not a bad deal at all:

 

The U300 got speeds of up to 4.16 Mbps downloading and up to 0.78 Mbps uploading. Speed test begins at 1:38.

The Sprint 4G speed tests were conducted in Atlanta, GA with download speeds up to 4.16 Mbps and upload speeds up to 0.78 Mbps.

Both speeds fall within the range of what Sprint advertises (3-6 Mbps average downloading and up to 1 Mbps uploading).

While the 4G speed isn’t nearly as impressive as the Verizon 4G UML290, the difference maker is that with Sprint 4G you get unlimited mobile broadband.

 

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As far as 4G coverage is concerned, Sprint’s repertoire is constantly growing. 3G coverage is pretty much nationwide (but is lacking in particular fringe areas).

Be sure to plug in your address before getting it.

I’ve found the 4G coverage map to be pretty accurate when purchasing my own Sprint 4G Overdrive.

 

Should You Get It?

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The Sprint U300 by Franklin Wireless is decent card.

As someone who’s only connection to the internet is mobile broadband, it’s extremely convenient for me to have access to multiple networks especially in bad weather.

If one unfortunately gets knocked out of commission, you’ve still got a backup connection to the internet of sorts to get working, watching Hulu or chatting on Skype.

You can do that with the U300 thanks to access to both Sprint’s 3G and 4G networks.

On the other hand, it would be nice to see a microSD slot and support for Macs.

While the Sprint U300 is no longer available from Sprint, you can rent it for short periods of time from Event Radio Rentals.

Otherwise, I’d recommend going with the Sprint 4G Overdrive.

Not only do you have access to both networks, it’s a portable mobile hotspot that lets you connect up to 5 devices and share a microSD card via WiFi if you wanted to (which works with every computer regardless of operating system).

It’s got everything the U300 has and more.

To see how the U300 matches up to other broadband cards, check out the Broadband Card Comparison.

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