Sprint sent us the EV-DO Rev. A-capable Novatel Wireless Merlin S720 card to test its Sprint Power Vision Network. Unlike the Cingular solution that's ready to go once you have your SIM card, you need to call Sprint to activate the card. Install the included Sprint PCS Connection Manager software and slide in the card when prompted and you're ready to go-almost. Upon completion of the install, a dialog box informs you that your card is being activated and will be ready for use "in approximately four hours." So much for instant gratification.
Once it's running, the Rev. A network is a joy to use. CNN.com loaded in less than 15 seconds in our Manhattan offices, and video there played stutter-free. Gmail took just six seconds to load. In our office-building test we measured an average throughput of 498.6 Kbps, slightly below average compared with the notebooks we tested. Uplink speed, however, was a well-above-average 198.2 Kbps.
The connection was not as fast as some of the notebooks with integrated mobile broadband, but for the price, the Novatel Wireless Merlin S720 delivers very good performance in more coverage areas than any other carrier.