The Pantech UML290 is the 2nd broadband card to hit the Verizon 4G network.
Besides insanely fast download speeds of up to 20.29 Mb/s, its got not one but two external antenna jack ports for improving reception whether you’re on their 4G or 3G network. That’s right, it’s backwards compatible with the 3G network so you’ll be covered just about everywhere.
With Windows and Mac compatibility, Verizon may very well have themselves a winner. If only they’d do something about those data caps.
Even if 4G isn’t in your area yet, the UML290 allows you to future proof yourself for when it does since Verizon has plans to roll out 4G coverage to places where 3G coverage doesn’t and won’t ever exist.
Stuff You Should Know (Good & Bad)
Design & Aesthetics
The UML290 is about the length of a credit card and half the width of a Blackberry 8900 (Curve).
While it’ll almost anywhere, it may be a tight squeeze for the ‘5th’ pocket in a pair of jeans that’s normally reserved for a small set of keys.
When stacked on the Sierra 4G Overdrive and the Blackberry 8900, it’s noticeably thicker than both devices. A respectable portion of that width is actually the swivel encasing that protects the USB port.
One cool thing about the swivel USB port that I recommend every broadband card be equipped with is that it can anywhere from almost 180 degrees horizontally to 90 degrees vertically.
Finally, when you plug the UML290 into your laptop, it doesn’t take up huge amounts of space. While by no means is it the tiniest broadband card on the market, it’s not the bulkiest either.
So long as you’re not working in a ridiculously confined space like the bathroom of a Greyhound bus, you should be okay.
In the event that you are working from a Greyhound bathroom (or more likely a cramped car), opt for the USB extension cable.
While it’s included to minimize interference between the Verizon 4G UML290 and your computer, it’s also a good way to have it attached in a flexible way in the event you go over sudden bumps that might cause the device to jump around.
You definitely want to keep the USB intact and working under all circumstances. While your warranty will cover defective products, it won’t cover accidental damage on your part.
For something like that, you may have to check out SquareTrade.
I use them for extending warranties and accidental protection on everything from my cell phone to laptop and even my digital camera.
The Verizon 4G UML290’s biggest features are 3G/4G dual compatibility, external antenna connectors for both 3G and 4G signal, Windows and Mac support plus a 180 degree rotating (swivel) USB port.
The 3G external antenna jack is the ‘top’ port pictured with the satellite pictured on it. The 4G jack is located on the ‘bottom’ or right of the device.
I’ve included some techy details just in case you need them. If not, skip past to see the unboxing and insanely fast speed test videos below:
- 3.5" (H) x 1.4" (W) x 0.6" (D)
- Weight: 1.8 oz.
- SAR = 1.15 W/kg – body
Operating System Support
- Windows® Vista (32/64–bit) (SP2), Windows® XP (32–bit) (SP3), Windows® 7 (32/64–bit)
- Mac OS 10.4 or higher
- One Type A USB Port
- Processor: 150 MHz or higher
- Disk Drive: CD ROM
- Memory (RAM) requirement: 64MB
- Hard disk space requirement : 28.1MB
- Internet Browser Software
- CDMA 1xEV–DO Rev. A/Rev. 0: 800/1900 MHz
- LTE CDMA (700MHz)
Memory / Chipset
- Qualcomm MDM9600
- Fold–away, 180° rotating Type A USB connector
- 4G SIM Card compatible
- VZAccess® Manager for easy connection management
- Antenna System: Efficient, innovative internal antenna design optimizes data transfer rate and sensitivity to network signals
- External Antenna Connector
- Service Status Indicator (LED)– 2 Color
- USB Extension Cable and Clip Holster included for performance optimization
- 2–way Text Messaging capable
- VPN Compatible; Dial Up; NDIS/LAN Adapter support
For drivers, downloads, updates and the whole kitchen sink, check out Verizon’s support page.
What’s In The Box?
- UML290 4G USB Modem
- VZAccess Manager
- USB Extension Cable
- Tips, Hints & Tricks Guide
- Product Safety & Warranty Guide
For the really astute observers out there, yes, that’s a SIM card chip holder.
The Verizon LTE network uses SIM cards which opens up the possibility of cheap international mobile broadband providing you can get an unlock code from them.
If you do, then you’ll be able to switch out the SIM card in another country for a local provider and infinitely cheaper rates as opposed to exorbitantly high international roaming fees.
Since the device is fairly new (along with 4G LTE itself), these are untested waters. If you’ve tried it or are considering it, definitely leave a comment. I’m an avid international traveler myself and am very curious about this.
What’s Speed & Coverage Like?
The Pantech 4G UML290 runs on both Verizon’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 this bad boy out for a spin and got some exceptionally fast speeds that rival wired cable internet.
Verizon 4G speed tests were conducted in Atlanta, GA with download speeds up to 20.29 Mb/s and upload speeds up to 8.43 Mbps.
That’s ridiculously fast and beats cable and DSL modem speeds.
At the time of this review, Verizon has 4G coverage in 38 U.S. cities. However, they have plans to have 4G coverage in even more places than they currently have 3G coverage.
In short, that means everywhere.
Should You Get It?
The Verizon 4G UML290 by Pantech is a solid card.
It’s got a durable feel in your hand, backward compatibility with 3G networks and allows for future proofing if you’re in an area that doesn’t have 4G yet.
While it would be nice to see a microSD slot and a bit smaller form factor, its size is understandable considering that its packing two antennas. That’s a small sacrifice to access two networks for the price of one.
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.
No rebates, gimmicks or anything. With that kind of price tag, it’s really hard no to pick one up especially when you can test it out for 7 days without committing to a contract.
Otherwise, see how the UML290 stacks up against the competition in the Broadband Card Comparison.