Beyond being one attractive netbook, the ECS G10IL packs built-in mobile broadband support, a feature that sets it apart from the other netbooks on the playground. The built-in Ericsson F3507g WMC 1.0 Data Modem coupled with a slot for a SIM card under the battery allow the 10-inch netbook to connect to a GSM network, like AT&T or T-Mobile. Our review unit came with a working modem so I popped in a colleague's AT&T SIM card. What do I think? Only that every mini-notebook should come with this feature. When you have got your netbook but no Wi-Fi, it is like having cereal without milk. There is no reason that you shouldn't be able to share your phone's data connect with your netbook while on the move. Setting up the connection was fairly simple. I removed the battery and slid in an AT&T 3G SIM card.
When the system booted I had to enable the UMTS/ data connection by hitting Fn + F3. ECS preloads Avanquest's Connection Manager software to take care of the rest. The software recognized the AT&T SIM as soon as we told it to search for it. A simple click of the interface's Connect button and we were connected to AT&T's 3G network. Browsing in Internet Explorer and Firefox 3 was what I expect for mobile broadband speeds. At 95 percent network strength in our office conference room, ESPN.com loaded in 9 seconds, CNN.com in 8 seconds, Laptopmag.com in 21 seconds, and Engadget in 15 seconds. I got similar speeds when I had close to 100 percent strength when I sat in a Starbucks in midtown Manhattan.
I also simultaneously listened to streaming music over Pandora.com while checking my Gmail without a hiccup. Of course, the only issue that I anticipate having with the 3G connectivity is that it will eat at the battery life. Note: We are in the process of testing the battery life on the ECS G10IL. We will report results soon.
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