Rabu, 29 September 2010
AT&T USBConnect Lightning
The Lightning needs to go on a diet. Where most USB modems are sticks, this is a slab at 3.1 by 1.4 by .5 inches (HWD) and 1.6 ounces. The USB port tucks into the body of the modem, and the port both flips out 180 degrees and swivels 180 degrees. This is good because the modem is so large, it has trouble fitting in with some USB port configurations. There are tiny blue LEDs on the front to show power and connectivity; on a modem this big, I would rather have seen a full signal meter. On the side, there's a MicroUSB card slot, an external antenna jack, and the SIM card slot.
Plugging the modem in automatically starts software installation on PCs. Mac users need to download the Sierra Watcher from Sierra Wireless's Web site. I had a lot of trouble getting the Lightning to work on my MacBook Pro running OS 10.6, including several kernel panics, so I can't recommend this modem to Mac users at all.
The Lightning works with AT&T's 3G network, as well as foreign 3G networks. This is an HSPA 7.2/HSUPA 2.0 device; like other current AT&T modems, it isn't ready for AT&T's upcoming HSPA+ 14.4 speeds. This modem also doesn't have GPS, unlike some of its competitors.
I compared the USBConnect Lightning to the Sierra Wireless AirCard 890 ($149, 3.5 stars) and the AT&T USBConnect Velocity by Option ($99, 4 stars) in eight rounds of testing in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, New York. All the devices had pretty similar performance. The Lightning showed the fastest peak speed for downloads but the slowest for uploads, peaking at 3.98Mbps down and 839Kbps up. Average speeds were in line with the other modems, at 1.34Mbps down and 640Kbps up.
AT&T still doesn't offer a MiFi hotspot, so USB modems are the best way to get computers online with the carrier's network. The AT&T USBConnect Lightning by Sierra Wireless is fast, but its unwieldy size and trouble connecting to Macs causes me to recommend one of the two other available solutions. Go with the Sierra Wireless AirCard 890 if your computer has a slot, and the AT&T USBConnect Velocity if it doesn't.