The Sprint U301 offers up unlimited mobile broadband in 4G coverage areas for $60/month. When the faster 4G network isn’t available, you’ll have the standard 5 GB of data in 3G areas.
At 3.5″ long and 1.7″ wide, it’s about as long as a credit card and just a big more than half as wide. Mac users can rejoice with official support for 10.5 and 10.6 (Snow Leopard). Naturally, support is in place for Vista, XP and Windows 7 users.
C-motech, the contracted makers of the U301 through Franklin Wireless, give a synopsis of the device at Mobile World Congress 2010 in Barcelona, Spain
Stuff You Should Know (Good & Bad)
Design & Aesthetics
The Sprint U301 has a standard USB broadband card build.
With a rotating ‘swivel’ USB connector, it can point horizontally as well as vertically. Also, weighing in at 1.25 ounces, it’s as heavy as 6 quarters and will feel lighter in your pocket than a wallet.
My broadband card was just never the same…
- Sprint 3G EVDO speeds up to 3.1 Mbps
- Sprint 4G WiMAX speeds up to 10 Mbps
- Integrated GPS supporting Sprint Navigation, Blackberry Maps, Google Earth when using 3G.
- Support for Windows® Vista, Windows® XP, Windows® 7 (compatible mode with SSV 2.28) MAC OS® 10.5 and 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
- Dimensions: 3.5 inches (h) x 1.27 inches (w) x 0.92 inch (d) (88.9 mm x 32.26 mm x 23.37 mm)
- Weight: 1.25 ounces (35.44 grams)
Get a bit closer to the Sprint U301 in this unboxing video review.
Like most 3G / 4G hybrid broadband cards, the Sprint U301 is not a feature rich device.
Most USB broadband cards currently ship with microSD slots. You won’t find any here. 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 Sprint U301 works on both 3G and 4G networks. 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)
3 – 6 Mbps (4G)
|Real (Tested) Download Speed||600 Kbps – 1.4 Mbps (3G)
3 – 6 Mbps (4G)
|Advertised Upload Speed||350 Kbps – 500 Kbps (3G)
1 Mbps (4G)
|Real (Tested) Upload Speed||250 Kbps – 425 Kbps (3G)
Up to 1 Mbps (4G)
|Regional or National?||National (3G)
Since Sprint’s 4G network (via Clear) is currently available in select markets, be sure to check out the 4G coverage review to see if you’re covered. If not, you’ll be using their 3G network which limits you to 5 Gigabytes per month.
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?
On paper (or webpage rather), the Sprint U301 is a decent deal. Besides replacing your DSL or cable connection, Sprint offers up some scenarios for business use:
- Real estate agents can conduct virtual property tours.
- Construction teams using 4G in the field can save valuable time by sharing schematics with engineers online.
- Insurance companies can speed their claims management through real-time communication with on-site adjusters.
- Health care professionals can improve their ability to remotely monitor patients.
- Emergency first responders can rapidly assess and coordinate disaster action with real-time on-site video and audio.
- Photojournalists can instantly transfer high-resolution images to the newsroom.
As the successor to the Sprint U300, improvements have been made particularly for compatibility with the Mac OS.
So Is It A Keeper?
It makes more sense to get the Sierra Overdrive Mobile Hotspot.
Since it does everything the Sprint U301 does and more (connect wirelessly and easily shares your connection), you might as well pick it up even if you are not in a 4G area.
Also, Sprint will be rolling out 4G over many markets in 2010. As such, there’s a good chance it might become available to you over the course of your 2-year contract.
Think of it as future-proofing.
While I’m not in a 4G market at the moment, I plan to pick one up when I do for the simple fact that I like the convenience of a mobile hotspot that travels with me.
Since life doesn’t stop for anything, why should your internet connection?