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First Look: Sprint Connection Manager

updated 05:25 pm EDT, Mon April 14, 2008

Sprint Connection Manager

The most common way to access the Internet with a laptop computer is through a Wi-Fi network. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi access isn't always available. If you can't find a free hotspot, the next best option is to use a wireless modem for accessing the Internet through a cellular network. Not only are cellular networks more readily accessible than Wi-Fi networks (especially when you're riding in a car, bus, or train), but cellular networks are still often fast enough for basic web browsing and e-mail access. With a cellular wireless modem (also called a mobile broadband device), a laptop, and a program like Sprint's Connection Manager software, you can access the Internet wherever you have cellular coverage.


The Sprint Connection Manager displays the signal strength available


Sprint's software provides a simple interface that displays signal strength, connectivity details, and GPS services at the touch of a button. The program works with Mac OS X 10.4 and higher, as well as Windows XP/Vista; however, the number of supported wireless modems differs greatly. For Mac OS X, the program supports only the following wireless modems:

[bullet] Sierra: AC580, AC595, 595U, 597E
[bullet] Novatel: S620, S720, EX720, U720, U727

For Windows XP/Vista, the program supports all of these modems:

[bullet] Sierra: AC580, AC595, 595U, 597E, 875U
[bullet] Novatel: S620, S720, EX720, U720, U727
[bullet] Pantech: PC-5740, PX-500
[bullet] BlackBerry: 7130, 7250, 8130, 8703, 8830
[bullet] LG: LX160, LX400, LX550, LX570
[bullet] Motorola: KRZR, RZAR, SLVR, V9m
[bullet] Samsung: A900M, m500, m510, m520, m600, SPH-900, SPH-920
[bullet] Sanyo: Katana DLX, Pro 200, Pro 700, SCP-3200, SCP-6650, SCP-7050, S1

Wireless modems typically plug into a PC card slot, a USB port, or an ExpressCard slot. Before you can use any such modem, you must configure it to work with your cellular phone account. After you have configured the modem, you can install and run Connection Manager. When you need to connect to the Internet, click the big "Connect" button on the program window.

Once you're connected to a cellular network, the program keeps track of how long you've been connected, how much data you've sent and received, and whether you're connecting using CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access, commonly used in 2G and 3G networks) or EVDO (Evolution Data-Optimized, used in 3G networks).


The program tracks how much time you've spent connected


After connecting, you'll likely want to run a program such as a browser or e-mail client. To launch different programs, the Sprint Connection Manager offers an Applications button, which stores icons of your most frequently-used programs.



The program comes with a list of Application icons for showing Sprint's coverage map, or accessing Sprint's online support. You can modify this list, however, to include your own favorite software.



Next to the Application button on the user interface is a GPS button, which can show your current location and display a list of icons for finding the nearest hotel, bank, restaurant or gas station.





Internet access through a cellular network can sometimes be fast enough for uses such as streaming radio or watching videos on sites like YouTube or CNN, but the speed of Internet access through cellular will likely be slower than a typical Wi-Fi connection.

When run through Speedtest.net (
http://www.speedtest.net), a Wi-Fi network's download speed was 12,710Kbps, while Sprint's cellular network clocked a speed of only 926Kbps. The upload speeds were closer to even, rating 546Kbps on Wi-Fi and 454Kbps via Sprint.



Overall, Sprint's Connection Manager provides easy access to the Internet from a cellular network. The program's Application list offers a convenient way to load your favorite software, while the GPS list gives you one-click access to gas stations, hotels, and other important businesses, which can be indispensable when traveling in an unfamiliar area. Combined with Sprint's cellular network and a laptop, you may never need to disconnect from the Internet again.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. Athens

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    wtf

    This isnt a news story its a edicational how to story. Was this ripped from Wikipedia or something?

  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    WiFi speeds...

    Idiotic comparison, especially without explaining what the source of the WiFi feed is -- WiFi is only as good as the ISP feeding it.

    Hence, it would have helped to know if the WiFi he's measuring and touting as 12,710 is via his Fiber, DSL, Cable, or what have you... otherwise, mentioning that speed really is just a passive pissing contest entry ("let me toss in how fast my WiFi connection to make my readers envy me"). Essentially, par for the course for the 12-year old editors writing for MacNN, I guess.

    The advantage of the kind of services Sprint provide with their EVDO service (which I use) is that you can get consistent 1st tier DSL style speeds, nearly EVERYWHERE, and while you are mobile.

    As an example, I combine Sprint's offering with a 3G WiFi router in my car, and thus have a mobile hotspot (WiFi, even .... Ooooh!) anywhere I drive my car -- something that 'WiFi' describe by the author of this article, can not provide, no matter how fast his connection in his mom's basement is.

  1. bousozoku

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    One test of speed?

    I've been using a Samsung A900 phone as a modem and regularly get around the maximum 1.1 Mbps on downloads and have seen greater than 200 KB/sec. in Firefox 2.0.0.x, as well. The upload speed is much less generous as this phone has EV-DO Rev.0 technology. I just got 87-90 Kbps on upload and 1029-1109 Kbps on the download test.

    In any case, it's nice to see that Sprint have got their software working on Macs so we don't have to rely on a Windows machine to do various maintenance.

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