Tag Archive | "verizon wireless 4g"

Mini Review: LG 4G (LTE) USB Modem

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lg vl600 usb modemAlong with a number of other 4G devices, Verizon has launched several USB modems for their speedy 4G data network. The modem is compatible with Mac and Windows, backwards compatible with 3G, and can send text messages from its own number. Data plans will run you $50/month for a 5GB allowance or $80 for 10GB. Overages will cost you $10/GB. Before I jump into the review, I should talk about the allotted data. 5GB of data will almost certainly be enough for someone who has a primary connection at home, but needs data on the go. I’ve been using the modem pretty heavily as a mobile user over the last few weeks and have not yet racked up 5GB (thought I’m pretty close). I doubt I’ll use another gigabyte before the billing cycle ends, but even if I did, I’d only be charged an additional $10 which would mean $60 for the month, but still cheaper than the other option of $80/month for 10GB. Speaking of the $80 option, that’s what I would recommend if you plan on eliminating your home connection and rely on the USB modem as your full-time connection. If you aren’t a heavy internet user though, you could definitely get away with the 5GB plan as a dedicated connection. Also remember that 4G from Verizon is only currently active in places with significant population (major cities) for the most part, but by 2013 they plan to have 4G coverage as widespread as their current 3G coverage (thus, if you are in the market for a 3G USB modem from Verizon, you might consider getting a 4G stick just so that you’ll be compatible when your area is infused with 4G service). While the USB modem is backwards compatible with 3G, definitely check your coverage to make sure that you are in a 4G area. Now that that’s through, let’s get on with the mini review!

Hardware

photo 1 (1)The hardware itself is the LG VL600, and it’s pretty big. I’ll certainly be looking forward to the size of USB 4G modems to come down in the future, but the VL600 isn’t unwieldy. photo 3The cap is permanently attached and flips up when you need to plug the modem in. I’m fairly certain that there’s an antenna in the cap part; otherwise I’d be pretty annoyed that such a huge cap is permanently attached! Out of the box you’ll get the USB modem, a clip-holder, and (thankfully) a 2-foot USB extension cable — in case you want to elevate the position of the modem, or if you don’t have room for the rather large USB plug to go into your computer. There’s also a CD included for installing the necessary software; more on that in the Software section of this mini-review. photo 4My only critique of the hardware is that it’s quite large. The overall size isn’t that much of an issue (I’m not exactly looking for fashion in my USB modems) but the problem is how wide the area around the USB plug is. On some notebooks — MacBooks especially — the wide shape of the housing will likely block adjacent USB ports, which is annoying. Fortunately, there’s a USB extension cable included to fix this issue, but it would be great if the USB modem was small enough not to get in the way in the first place. photo 2 (1)A note before we move on: If you pop the back cover off the stick, you’ll find a SIM slot which most Verizon customers won’t be used to. Presumably you could swap other 4G SIM cards into this slot which means a bit more flexibility over having your number embedded within the device.

Performance

Verizon’s 4G speeds at the moment are phenomenal. The 4G service that comes down to this USB modem deftly surpasses my dedicated home connection from Comcast, and is faster than 80% of US connections, according to Speedtest.net: 4g speedtest While the blazing fast speeds above are certainly impressive, Verizon warns that things will change as their 4G infrastructure takes on more traffic as time goes on, but they are still promising between 5-12 Mbps download and 2-5 Mbps upload which is nothing to scoff at. The upload in this particular test wasn’t so great, but I have seen speeds upwards of 20Mbps. Aside from an issue requiring me to occasionally restart the connection (see Connectivity/Reception section below), web browsing feels like you’re on a speedy dedicated line which is very impressive considering all of that data is coming to you without wires!

HTC Thunderbolt Overview Video

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IMG_5412As promised, we’ve got a solid 30 minute video overview of the HTC Thunderbolt, Verizon’s first 4G phone. You’ll see a quick hardware tour in the beginning followed by a look at the software (Android 2.2 with HTC Sense UI) of the meaty and well built device. Have a look below:

Field Guide: Verizon’s Six Upcoming 4G Devices – 4 Smartphones, 2 Tablets – Pics, Specs, and More

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verizon 4g lte devicesWith the launch of Verizon’s first 4G (LTE) smartphone, the HTC Thunderbolt, just behind us I thought it’d be a good time to lay down an overview of Verizon’s initial 4G device lineup. If you’re planning on jumping into the 4G action, listen up: these are the devices that you’ll be seeing right down the road.

At Verizon’s CES 2011 keynote, the company announced a goal to launch 10 4G devices by mid-year (which is now being refined to “summer”). Of those 10 devices, four are smartphones and two are tablets.

Availability:

All of the devices listed in this article will be available by this summer, according to Verizon.

As for 4G coverage, Verizon is continuing to roll out coverage to more regions. Take a look at the following map to see if your area is already 4G enabled, or marked as coming in 2011 (be sure to read the map legend!)

http://network4g.verizonwireless.com/pdf/VZW_4G_LTE_Coverage_Map.pdf

We saw the launch of the first of Verizon’s four upcoming 4G phones with the HTC Thunderbolt just a few days ago:

HTC Thunderbolt

htc thunderbolt front-backThe sleek looking HTC Thunderbolt is already in the hands of consumers, and we’ve seen some incredible 4G speed tests so far – speeds that easily outperform my home broadband connection (and probably yours too!). Check out this video from GottabeMobile.com of the Thunderbolt benchmarking 24.30Mbps download and 16.60Mbps upload:

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This is no doubt very impressive, but be forewarned: Verizon does not anticipate that customers will see these speeds once the 4G waves become saturated with users. Verizon has been claiming from the beginning of their LTE campaign that users should expect 5-12Mbps download and 2-5Mbps upload.

They are getting great press thanks to the ridiculous speed that the Thunderbolt achieves and even though the speed will reduce as 4G devices become more widespread, they are going to benefit greatly because the idea that “Verizon’s 4G is fast” is going to stick around in the heads of the general public much more easily than specific figures. When customers pick up a 4G phone, even after the speeds have come down to 5-12Mbps, they’ll likely still be impressed with the speed if they are coming from 3G.

Specs:

The HTC Thunderbolt isn’t just a data speed-demon, it’s also a top-of-the-line smartphone packed with some impressive hardware:

  • Android 2.2 with HTC Sense interface (unfortunately not 2.3!)
  • Qualcomm MSM8655 Snapdragon CPU @ 1GHz (Qualcomm MDM9600 chipset with LTE support)
  • 768MB of RAM
  • 8GB of built-in memory + 32GB pre-installed Micro-SD card
  • 4.3” capacitive touchscreen @ 800×480
  • 8MP rear camera with dual-LED flash and autofocus, 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • WiFi b/g/n & Bluetooth 2.1
  • GPS, FM radio

It’s also got a sweet kickstand – a hallmark of several HTC devices:

htc thunderbolt stand

I’m disappointed that it isn’t using running Android 2.3, but it seems like almost every upcoming device has this in common with the Thunderbolt. If we’re lucky, we’ll see an update to 2.3 down the road.

What it doesn’t have in common with most other smartphones on the market today is that the front-facing camera is 1.3MP instead of 0.3MP, this should offer a nice boost in video-calling quality (especially over 4G where the bandwidth is there for higher quality video).

Reviews:

If you’re looking for some quality info about the Thunderbolt, check out these reviews:

Next Up: Motorola Droid Bionic

HTC Thunderbolt Available Tomorrow for $250, Verizon on Its Way to Goal of Launching Ten 4G Devices by Mid-year

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Just a few weeks ago, a series of strange rumors began floating around about the HTC Thunderbolt’s release date being pushed back. Oddly, a lot of people seemed to be upset about this news regarding Verizon’s first 4G phone, which is peculiar considering that neither HTC nor Verizon had yet officially announced a release date. It looks like Verizon actually wanted to quell the talk about rumored push back of release dates. @VerizonWireless tweeted the other day:

We share excitement about the HTC Thunderbolt! When there’s actual news, you’ll get it here. Until then, on to other topics.

htc thunderboltToday, however, it’s official (for real). The HTC Thunderbolt will be launching on Verizon tomorrow (the 17th) for $250. Verizon says that they aren’t taking pre-orders, though customers can start buying the device online starting at midnight EST tonight, and that stores will be operating during regular hours.

Verizon is on its way to making good on it’s promise at CES this year: that 10 LTE devices would be launched by mid-year. Though Verizon has launched other LTE devices (like mobile hotspots), the HTC Thunderbolt is the first phone to be using the carrier’s recently launched 4G data service. Still on the device-bench for a 4G release is the Droid Bionic, a Samsung 4G smartphone, the LG Revolution, and a 4G upgrade for the Xoom and an enhanced 4G version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

People have been excited for the Thunderbolt for good reason. Aside from being created by the reputable HTC and supporting Verizon’s 4G data, the specs are looking quite nice:

  • Android 2.2 with HTC Sense interface (unfortunately not 2.3!)
  • Qualcomm MSM8655 Snapdragon CPU @ 1GHz (Qualcomm MDM9600 chipset with LTE support)
  • 768MB of RAM
  • 8GB of built-in memory + 32GB pre-installed Micro-SD card
  • 4.3 inch capacitive touchscreen @ 800×480
  • 8MP rear camera with dual-LED flash and autofocus, 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • WiFi b/g/n & Bluetooth 2.1
  • GPS, FM radio

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