Sierra Overdrive 3G/4G Hotspot Update: Test Results with Firmware 2.06.06

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Friday, 25 June 2010

Sierra Overdrive 3G/4G Hotspot Update: Test Results with Firmware 2.06.06

The Sierra Overdrive is much-improved with firmware 2.06.06

When the Sierra Overdrive 3G/4G hotspot first became available from Sprint, many users (including our testers) experienced a number of frustrating problems: problems switching between 3G and 4G, trouble accessing the MicroSD card, random disconnects, and more. Other users has no problems at all, but the folks whose Overdrives weren't performing properly were understandably quite frustrated.

Almost immediately after the Overdrive's release, Sierra Wireless (the manufacturer) acknowledged the problems and began working on a firmware update that would solve them. Earlier this month, they finally released firmware version 2.06.06, which was intended to address many of the key problems Overdrive users were experiencing. Our 3Gstore tech staff were among the unlucky users who were experiencing problems with the original Overdrive firmware, so we were very eager to install version 2.06.06 and perform testing to see if the problems were indeed solved. Below are our performance test results of the Overdrive after upgrading it to version 2.06.06:

Original Issue: Overall stability of the device
Results after 2.06.06 upgrade:
The 2.06.06 upgrade absolutely improved the overall stability and performance of the Overdrive. We tested extensively while connected to both 3G and 4G and were pleased to see that the random lock-ups or freeze-ups that were so frustrating with the previous firmware are no longer occurring.

Original Issue: Delays/Problems when switching between 3G and 4G
Results after 2.06.06 upgrade: Sierra Wireless's release notes about firmware 2.06.06 promised "Significant improvements in 3G and 4G WAN stability", including "improved response time when changing the WAN mode setting". Unfortunately, even after upgrading to firmware 2.06.06, we still saw issues with the Overdrive not seamlessly switching between networks. For example, we powered up the Overdrive in a basement where 3G signal is strong but 4G is weak, and allowed it to connect to 3G. We then took the Overdrive upstairs and outside the house where 4G signal is strong, but even after waiting quite a while the Overdrive never switched to connect to 4G. The Overdrive should always be looking for the best possible network and automatically connect to a faster network when available, but even after the firmware upgrade this functionality was still not working properly in our testing. However, it is important to note that this was one of the issues that we theorized to be location-based - since the launch of the Overdrive, the 3G/4G handoff issues have plagued users in certain markets but not others. For the record, we were in the Chicago area during our testing.

Original Issue: Power button would not power down the device.
Results after 2.06.06 upgrade: Resolved! We found that holding down the power button the Overdrive now powers down the unit as one would expect.

Original Issue: Devices connected to the Overdrive over WiFi were randomly disconnecting for no apparent reason.
Results after 2.06.06 upgrade: Resolved! After upgrading, we tested a wide variety of devices with the Overdrive over the course of many hours, and no longer experienced this issue.

Original Issue: Overdrive very slow to power up
Results after 2.06.06 upgrade: Resolved! The Overdrive now powers up from "off" when you hold the power button for 3-4 seconds.

Original Issue: Various issues with sharing files from the MicroSD card
Results after 2.06.06 upgrade: Resolved! We tested with a variety of both Mac and Windows computers and found no issues using the shared storage feature (accessing files on the card, transferring files, etc).

Original Issue: Power switch unresponsive when Overdrive prompts user to press the power button to connect to 3G or 4G.
Results after 2.06.06 upgrade: Unfortunately, after upgrading to 2.06.06 our testers saw no improvement with this problem.

Original Issue: Timer display counting up despite the Overdrive not being connected to either network.
Results after 2.06.06 upgrade: Resolved! With the old firmware, some users experienced an issue where the timer on the LCD screen would be counting up as if the Overdrive were connected to 3G or 4G when the device was not actually connecting at all. This issue has now been corrected - the timer now only counts up when the device actually is connected to 3G or 4G.

As a whole, we are very pleased with how much better the Overdrive performed after upgrading to 2.06.06. It's still not "perfect" - but it is much, MUCH less problematic and more enjoyable to use. If you've upgraded your Overdrive to firmware 2.06.06, share your experience in the EVDO Forums: Sierra Overdrive Firmware 2.06.06 Discussion is now selling the Sprint 3G/4G Overdrive for just $49.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a new Sprint contract. As always, 3Gstore customers receive superior customer service and tech support from Mobile Broadband Experts that actually use and test these devices on a regular basis! Additionally, 3Gstore updates the firmware to the latest version for FREE for all Overdrives ordered with Sprint service!

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