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Wednesday, 07 November 2007

Verizon's UM150 USB EVDO Rev-A Modem - First Impressions

Verizon's latest Rev-A USB EVDO modem is the UM150 made by Pantech, the same folks who make the Verizon PC5750 and Sprint PX500. The first thing you notice about the UM150 is its size, but unlike other USB devices that have been released lately like the CDU680 and USB727, the new UM150 isn't smaller than the rest. In fact, at 3.6" (H) x 1.5 " (W) x 0.7" (D) - the UM150 is actually BIGGER than the rest. Take a look for yourself:

Verizon's UM150 (aka Pantch PX600)

Like the USB727, the UM150 features a microSD slot that supports up to a 4GB card that you can store photos, videos, music and other documents on. You can see the slot cover at bottom of the UM150 in the photo above, and here's a photo of a card inserted into the UM150's microSD slot:

Verizon UM150 microSD slot

The UM150 features a first-of-its-kind for EVDO devices: a telescoping antenna. It didn't provide any impressive performance gain over not having the antenna deployed, and because the shaft of the antenna is made of plastic, its our opinion that it might easily break. Thankfully, the UM150 shares the swiveling feature of the CDU680, so that the antenna can be deployed up, rather than straight out sideways. Here is what the UM150 looks like inserted into a MacBook Pro, with the modem swiveled upright and the antenna deployed:

Verizon UM150 with antenna extended

Thankfully, the UM150 does come with a jack and this time around, we already have the adapter cable needed for this new device that allows for external antennas and amplifiers.

Aside from the telescoping antenna, the UM150 does have a couple of other unique features that allow for feedback no other USB EVDO modem has ever provided: you can see the modem's signal strength via LED's on the outside case, and you can tell when the microSD card is actively reading or writing data.

Verizon UM150 LED Signal Indicator

The UM150 ships with a Y-cable, which means that it can draw power from two USB ports if signal is weak enough to require more power. It also ships with a CD that includes Mac and Windows software.

The UM150 ships with Verizon's VZAccess Manager software that is compatible with Windows XP and Vista (32/64bit) and also with Mac OSX 10.3.9 and up through 10.5 Leopard.

Verizon UM150 Unboxed

The worst thing about the new Verizon UM150 is that it DOES NOT WORK WITH ANY 3G ROUTER. We tested it with the Kyocera KR1, the TopGlobal MB6800 and even the new Cradlepoint CTR350. None of them recognized the UM150. This might change in the future, but it sure makes the UM150 our least favored of Verizon's USB devices for the moment.

UPDATE: Less than six weeks after this review was posted, our 'Strategic Partnership' with Cradlepoint produced a beta version of firmware for their routers that provided support for the Verizon and Alltel version of the UM150! See this article for more info on the subject ->

While our opinion about build quality still remains the same, it applies more to 'traditional use' where someone would have to be attaching/detaching the UM150 to/from a laptop many times during the course of a travel day. Under those conditions, we still aren't confident that the UM150's build quality would hold up well.

HOWEVER! If the UM150 were to live life attached to a desktop computer or a router the majority of the time,� and rarely be 'handled' for any reason, we see that as a perfect application for the UM150 and really don't have a problem with it, under those conditions. The ability for someone to see the signal being received by the UM150 as they try different positions for their router, is unique to the UM150, and has really been a blessing for some customers.

UM150 and Cradlepoint PHS300

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 September 2009 )
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