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Friday, 05 December 2008

Verizon USB760 3G EVDO Rev-A USB Modem - First Impressions

Verizon USB760 3G EVDO USB Modem
The Verizon USB760, sitting on top of a standard business card.

The Novatel USB760 is Verizon's latest 3G EVDO Rev-A USB modem. At 2.24" (H) x 0.98" (W) x 0.47" (D), the USB760 now claims the title of "tiniest 3G EVDO USB modem". To get a feel for just how small that is, take a look at the picture above the shows our USB760 on top of a standard business card.

Before the USB760 was released, the smallest USB modem was Sprint's Compass 597. The photo below shows just how much smaller the new USB760 is.

Verizon USB760 vs. Compass 597
Verizon's US760 compared to Sprint Compass 597 and a U.S. Quarter

The USB760 is the third generation USB Rev-A 3G EVDO modem made by Novatel, the same folks who brought us the Verizon's USB727 and USB720. As each new generation has come out, the USB modems have gotten smaller and smaller. Take a look at this photo showing all three generations:

Three Generations of Novatel USB 3G EVDO modem

Much like the USB727 the USB760 features a tiny microSD slot to store up to 8GB of photos, videos, music and other documents on. A single 3-color service state LED provides connection status and the "high-performance internal antenna" works to keep the USB760 connected to the Verizon network. Thankfully, the USB760 does have an RF/antenna jack, and 3Gstore has USB760 high gain antennas available now.

Verizon USB760 adapter cable and signal LED
3Gstore has high gain antennas to work with the USB760

The USB760 is the first device to come from Verizon with absolutely no software on CD. The reason there is no software CD is that the USB760 ships with Verizon's VZAccess Manager software for Windows XP & Vista (32/64bit) as well as Mac OSX 10.4.x and up --stored in ON-BOARD memory!

Since we've seen how well this worked out with Sprint's SmartView manager on their Compass 597 USB modem, we had high expectations for Verizon/Novatel's implementation of on-board connection manager delivery. However, our initial experience with the USB760 left us unimpressed and we decided to take it up with Novatel themselves, who agreed to a conference call with one of their engineers.

The engineer confirmed our suspicions that if certain files from prior installations of connection manager software are not properly/fully removed, the auto-install feature may fail to launch, leaving the user with no way to install the connection manager that resides in USB760's memory.

We are thankful for that opportunity to get information "straight from the horse's mouth" and agreed to warn potential customers reading this review to fully remove any/all prior connection manager software BEFORE attempting to install/attach their new USB760. The issue is not Verizon Access Manager specific -- traces of connection manager software from other carriers can also cause the issue.

To ease the tech support issues we expect will be happening, all 3Gstore customers who buy the USB760 will receive the latest windows and OSX version of USB760 specific Verizon Access Manager software on a CD that we have prepared. We want our customers to have as little frustration as possible!

One question that many folks will always ask when any new 3G device comes out is, "... just how fast is it? We've always maintained that all devices built to a particular "specification" are going to be as fast as all other devices built to similar spec, so long as they receive adequate signal. Our tests with the USB760 reaffirm that opinion as results were very similar to USB727, UM150 and V740 - all from same testbench in Dallas, TX that always has great signal:

USB760 speed test. Same average as other Rev-A devices.

The USB760 does feature "NovaSpeed" technology designed to improve simultaneous download/upload speeds under the worst of traffic conditions, but our initial testing did not reveal any obvious advantage over other Rev-A devices we tested from same testbench, under same signal conditions.

During the conference call with Novatel's engineer, we got confirmation that Novaspeed is implemented in the USB760's internal firmware and is not a part of carrier's connection manager software. Thats good news for people who plan on using their USB760 with a cellular router.

As is typical whenever something new and shiny comes out, customers will be inclined to want to buy the "latest and greatest" device and ask for our opinion on how the USB760 compares to other EVDO devices offered by Verizon. After thousands of speedtests in many cities across the nation, our opinion is that the only thing the USB760 has going for it is the fact that it is the tiniest USB modem available on the market today. Aside from its size, at the time of this review, we find no reason to recommend the USB760 over the USB727 that preceded it. is now selling the USB760. 3Gstore customers receive superior customer and tech support from EVDO Experts that actually use and test these devices on a regular basis!

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 July 2010 )
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