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Sprint U680 EVDO USB Modem Review

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Saturday, 14 June 2008

Sprint U680 EVDO USB Modem Review

Sprint U680 USB ModemThe "latest" EVDO Rev-A USB modem for use on the Sprint MobileBroadBand EVDO network is the U-680.

Actually, its not that new. Its the same Franklin CDU-680 that 3Gstore.com has been selling with Sprint EVDO service since Sept. 14, 2007 - nine months ago!

There really isn't anything different about the Sprint U680 except that it has a Sprint logo instead of a Franklin logo, and that customers can now request that be insurance be added to their monthly bill to cover loss or damage. Aside from that, the Sprint U680 offers no improvement over the Franklin CDU680 we've already been selling.

3Gstore has just received its first shipment of the new Sprint U680 USB modems, and already has them listed for sale with service contracts on our online Sprint EVDO order form. 3Gstore will pre-activate all U680's before they leave our warehouse to ensure that they are fully operational and that the very latest firmware and PRL information are on board. This service helps to ensure that U680's are not DOA and that installation and activation on customer's computers goes as smooth as possible. It also allows for immediate use with EVDO routers like those from Cradlepoint.


Photo shows a Sprint labeled U680 with boxes from first shipment

Inside the box that ships from Sprint are a user's manual, the U680 itself, a soft pouch and a USB Y-cable that can be used to draw additional power from a second USB port to compensate for weak EVDO signal.


The U680 ships with a user's manual, soft pouch, and USB Y-Cable

Using the Y-cable is NOT the best solution to overcome weak signal issues on any USB modem. Obtaining better signal by using a high gain antenna attached to the U680's antenna jack is the best way to overcome weak signal. 3Gstore has a complete selection of U680 antennas, as well as amplifiers and routers.

Sprint U680 Booster Antenna
The U680 features an RF jack to attach high gain Booster Antennas.

The Sprint U680 is compatible with Windows Vista/XP, Mac OSX 10.4+, and even has files needed to allow for relatively easy use on Linux distros. When is inserted into a computer's USB port it shows up just like a "USB Flash Drive", and opening it up would reveal the contents as shown in screenshot below.


The contents of Sprint U680's 64mb flash memory

Sprint has included software that allows for "One Touch" programming of the U680. Screenshot below shows the dialog screen that displays before the activation process starts.


The 'One Touch' activation dialog for the Sprint U680

The Sprint U680 is very compact. In fact, with its swiveling USB connector folded into itself to be put away and transported, it is nearly the same size as the Compass 597 USB modem with its USB cover in place, as shown in the next photo.


Sprint U680 and Compass 597 are the same size, when not in use.

The Sprint U680's swiveling USB connector allows it to be positioned upright, making it less likely to be accidentally bumped into and may receive better signal. The next photo shows the discontinued AirCard 595u along with the new Sprint U680 and the other USB modems currently available from Sprint: the Ovation U727 and the Sierra Wireless Compass 597.


L-R: 595U, U680, U727 and Compass 597 USB EVDO Modems

Sprint's marketing plan for the U680 claims that the U680 is the only USB modem that fits the MacBook Air without needing a USB cable. Our guess is that their marketing research was done before the Sierra Wireless Compass 597 came out because not only does the Compass 597 fit and work nicely with the MacBook Air, it sticks out less than the Sprint U680 does. The photo below shows how much longer the U680 is than the Compass 597 when "flat out", which is the position it needs to be in to connect to the MacBook Air.


With swiveling connector straight out, the U680 is longer than 597U


Sprint U680 works great with MacBook Air, and can rotate up a little bit.

As mentioned earlier, the Sprint U680 works great with all of the Cradlepoint Routers and it also works with the Kyocera KR2 router, too. For maximum portability, the Sprint U680 and Cradlepoint PHS300 make a really good combination, as shown in the photo below.


Sprint U680 works great with Cradlepoint PHS300 EVDO Router

We did a full review of the Franklin CDU680 back in September, and it is highly recommended reading for those who are just now learning about the Sprint U680. Check it out at: http://www.evdoinfo.com/content/view/2106/63/

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 May 2009 )
 
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