Sprint 2-in-1 EVDO ExpressCard AirCard 402 Review

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Wednesday, 16 September 2009
The Aircard 402 is no longer available. View currently available Sprint devices at

Sierra Wireless AirCard 402 EVDO ExpressCard for Sprint

The Sprint Sierra Wireless AirCard 402 EVDO Rev-A Expresscard ships with a PCMCIA adapter.

The Sierra Wireless AirCard 402 Expresscard is a "2-in-1" card for use on Sprint's 3G/EVDO Mobile Broadband network . The package consists of an 34mm ExpressCard that will work with modern laptops that feature an expresscard slot (these slots are typically skinnier than the width of a credit card), and includes a pcmcia "sled" that adapts the expresscard for use with older laptops like the Apple PowerBooks and windows laptops that utilize the older PCMCIA style slot. By including the pcmcia adapter, users who buy the AirCard 402 will be able to get online at 3G/EVDO speeds with their existing older laptop and avoid the expense of a different modem when they upgrade, so long as their future laptops have at least an expresscard slot.

The AirCard 402's included adapter works with older pcmcia slot laptops like this 15" Powerbook.

Not much is included in the box with the new AirCard 402 -- just a clear plastic case, the expresscard, adapter/sled, and a user's guide. No software CD is included because the expresscard's on-board memory ships with a copy of SmartView, Sprint's connection manager software. Mac users will be happy to know that the latest Sprint Smartview works great on Powerbooks running OS X 10.4 or later, and that the built-in WWAN support on Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard support the AirCard 402.

Those who have been longtime users of mobile broadband devices may wonder if this new 2-in-1 express/pc card sticks out of a laptop's card slot further than prior PC cards. Surprisingly, even with the pc card adapter, the AirCard 402 is not any longer than the AirCard 595 it replaces.

The AirCard 402 with sled is nearly the same length as older AirCard 595.

The AirCard 402 does have an internal cellular antenna and an RF jack that allows for high-gain antennas. 3Gstore already has a complete selection of high gain antennas for the AirCard 402 , but be warned: the adapter cable will only work directly attached to the expresscard and will not work if expresscard is inserted into the pcmcia sled.

The AirCard antenna/rf jack can only be accessed when not in pcmcia sled.

The Aircard 402 signal reception is as good as other mobile broadband devices, bringing in the same level of signal around our Dallas workbench. With great signal that averaged -65 RSSI, the 402 proved to be as fast as any other Sprint Rev-A device we've tested. Here's an average of several speedtests performed at the time of this review.


The AirCard 402 is on Cradlepoint's "officially supported" list of devices and our unit worked great with the Cradlepoint CTR500 and MBR1000 routers that feature an expresscard slot.

The AirCard 402 works great with the Cradlepoint MBR1000 .

This new AirCard 402 is very similar in features and function to the Novatel C777 also available for the Sprint EVDO Mobile Broadband network. Those customers wanting to find some reason to choose one over the other may be interested in knowing that the AirCard 402 can be activated and receive PRL updates via Cradlepoint web admin, but the C777 will not. That can be a significant difference for those deciding on a Sprint expresscard. Additionally, if a user expects to frequently slide the expresscard in and out of the included adapter, the pc adapter/sled provided with the AirCard 402 is significantly more robust and is expected to hold up to repeated use far better than the adapter/sled that ships with the C777.


  • Simple Installation of Sprint SmartView™ Software: The AirCard 402 includes Sierra Wireless’s automatic software installation experience for Sprint SmartView. A CD is no longer required so you’re up and running in fewer steps and less time. If you switch to a new laptop, the AirCard 402 will automatically begin the installation setup and you won’t need to search for a setup CD. Hands-Free Activation will complete the setup by automatically activating the device on Sprint’s Mobile Broadband network quickly and easily. Users will need to have the device’s ESN on a Sprint account before starting the installation process.
  • Sprint’s Mobile Broadband Network: The Sprint AirCard 402 delivers the best possible performance a 3G network can offer. AirCard 402 owners will enjoy typical upload speeds of 350-500 Kbps with peak speeds of 1.8 Mbps and typical download speeds of 600 Kbps - 1.4 Mbps with peak speeds of 3.1 Mbps where EV-DO Revision A is available. This means a 500 KB presentation can be sent to your client in eight seconds from the airport lounge. In areas where Rev. A networks are not available, the AirCard 402 is backward-compatible to Rev. 0 and 1xRTT networks.
  • Durable, High-Performance Design: Featuring a fixed, internal antenna and high strength plastics, the AirCard 402 is built for maximum ruggedness and reliability. Its compact design takes away the worry of storage, breakage and unplugging; the AirCard 402 extends about an inch from the side of your notebook, allowing users to leave the card plugged in while on the go.
  • GPS Capabilities: The AirCard 402 includes high-performance GPS capabilities for a quick and accurate fix on your location. With the latest version of Sprint SmartView software, the AirCard 402 provides access to desktop GPS applications and/or location-based services to “locate and search” the nearest bank, restaurant or gas station. Simply open Sprint SmartView and click the GPS bar in the Mobile Broadband window. A GPS drawer then opens up, offering One-Touch access to search categories.
  • Eye-Catching, Lighted Graphics: The AirCard 402 is the first card form factor from Sprint to incorporate a new and innovative lighted design. Plug the AirCard 402 into your laptop and watch the graphics light up. Passers-by will be sure to notice your device once it’s lit and your ability to connect to broadband networks wirelessly.

Related links:

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Last Updated ( Monday, 07 June 2010 )
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