Networking

A first look: Cingular 3G LaptopConnect Sierra Wireless AirCard 875

Continuing TechRepublic's look at the latest crop of wireless broadband PCMCIA cards for laptops, we take a first look at the offering from Cingular Wireless. The Sierra Wireless AirCard 875 connects users to the Cingular Broadband network using either cell phone technology or the standard 802.11 wireless protocol, depending on which is more advantageous.

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Mark W. Kaelin

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Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

5 comments
sctang73
sctang73

Tried the PCMCIA aircard - not bad, though I have have had generally more satisfaction w/ EVDO in NYC. Oddly enough, I set up the same laptop w/ the same Cingular software to work w/ a Cingular based RIM8700... performance took a noticeable dip but fortunately did not get worse than 56k dial-up. Also tried hooking up another laptop w/ a Sprint based RIM7250 as a tethered modem - works just as fast as the PCMCIA card. Can't speak for others, but EDGE & GPRS are just too slow for those in a hurry. Cingular's 3G is better, but not as responsive as EVDO, IMHO. Same goes for coverage - Cingular & T-Mobile just can not compare to Verizon or even Sprint. I have also tried using a Lenovo Thinkpad X60 w/ a built-in Verizon EVDO mini-pci adapter. Quite responsive, and great coverage in the NYC area. About the only thing I don't like is the software, which can be a bit confusing for beginners. Have not had the opportunity to use a Verizon phone as a USB tethered modem... T-Mobile is SLOW w/ their EDGE implementation. Most of their stuff is still on GPRS, which can be as slow as 28k dial-up. Coverage is also mediocre at best. Did not try using a phone as a USB tethered modem... Just my $0.02

larrycasavant
larrycasavant

I was given the AirCard 875 at a Broadband Connect seminar in Ft. Lauderdale along with a free month's service. I have to say that I came out of the seminar very impressed and thinking that perhaps I had made a mistake switching from being an old ATT wireless user to Verizon. It was pointed out at the meeting that ATT had just about completed its transition of merging and consolidating technogy from the old technologies of ATT and Cingular to 3G. I believe that users will see vast differences in ATT from now on. I did run tough comparison tests with the AirCard 875 and the Verizon PC5750 while traveling in the "innards" of Florida. We experienced very few disconnects - connected probably 95% of the time traveling from West Palm Beach to Sebring and then to Immokalee and back with the AirCard 875. Connection with the PC5750 was slower and many times unavailable which surprised me becaused my Verizon cell phone had a strong signal and connection. In some locations speed crawled to slow dialup; but at least we could connect with Cingular's and not with Verizon's. It is possible that a software update for the Verizon card would have made a difference; but I haven't made the same trip yet. Initial test comparison of the two new Cingular 3G cards yieled better results with the 875 than a second new 3G with the butterfly antenna.

SCOTTCOHEN
SCOTTCOHEN

SONY, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING??? The "Stupid Business Decision of the Week" goes to SONY! I just purchased a new super-duper laptop, the SONY SZ480 which came with a "ATT/CINGULAR 2 MONTH TRIAL". While traveling, the wireless did not work. After spending about 2 hours on the phone with tech support, the wireless works, but was running slow and then dropping. I called back (another hour), to download drivers, and all sorts of fixes. It was working again, but still really slow. I asked the tech support guy, Dave, who finally admitted that the Cingular Network was just a little faster than dial-up. So, here's the deal. You buy a terrific computer with a built in wireless card that hooks up to the slowest network out there! What were they thinking. Cingular should be ashamed to be offering such a bad product, and SONY made a terrible decision to offer this instead of Verizon or SPRINT. So for an extra few bucks you might get from Cingular, you cost yourself 4 hours of tech support, a dissatisfied customer, and earned the "Stupid Business Decision of the Week Award"! QUESTION: What city was I in? ANSWER: LA, NY, Seattle, and Chicago. Wireless broadband access anywhere, anytime for your laptop using a PCMCIA card. TAGS: SONY, CINGULAR, AT&T, ATT, VERIZON, SPRINT, Broadband Internet, wireless broadband, Cingular Wireless, Sprint Communications, PCMCIA card, Verizon Communications Inc., laptop computer, wireless, broadband

bradfordramsey
bradfordramsey

I purchased the AirCard 875 today with Cingular ($50 after 2 year contract, $60 per month). About two hours ago I cancelled my Charter broadband service. I did several download tests after I got it and Cingular's network was nearly twice as fast as my Charter cable internet. I checked the speeds on the SpeakEasy site and the AirCard blew Charter out of the water. I'm just outside of Birmingham, Alabama... so if it works here it should work anywhere. Needless to say - a very happy customer here.

seanrice
seanrice

Hey Larry, Know of anybody whose gotten this, or working on software support for this card and Mac OS X ??? Seems like a great opportunity for shareware, open source, or commercial licensing. I'm a mac coder myself... but don't want to re- invent the wheel you know? Any info appreciated. Sean