Pros: WIFI support on Sprint network for laptops, CDMA, 3G
Cons: Only works with PCMCIA card slots, slow access speeds
While rummaging through the four parts shelves on the wall above my desk, I was shocked to find a Sprint PC-5740 PCIMIA Cellular Modem sitting behind some Kleenex boxes. Officially named the UT Starcom PC-5740, this mobile broadband card is actually a USB modem designed to allow laptop users to get on the internet while travelling. My task was to connect the modem and find out the phone number it was registered to so that I could cancel it, but of course I wanted to test it out a little before losing such a cool toy.
How fast does this 3G PCMCIA modem really transfer files?
What is required to install the Sprint PC-5740 Card in my laptop?
Read On To Find Out!
I maintain several of these cards for my company. We use them to all our sales force to get on the internet while visiting customers. The ability to access work email and upload Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Word 2010 documents more than pays for the monthly fee of these devices. The flexibility shows your clients that you are ready to do business which is why we always have a spare ready for action at a moment's notice.
Physical Size Of The Cellular Modem Card
The Sprint PC-5740 card measures approximately 4.5" long x 2" wide. Only the tail end of the card can be seen when inserted into your laptop. The semi-transparent, black tail measures 1 1/4" long x 2" wide x 3/4" tall and is sturdy enough to survive the occasional bump from passing coworkers.
Installation Of The PCMCIA Based Sprint Wireless PC-5740 Card
As soon as I picked up this cellular modem, I tried to see if it would let me just plug and play. I was using a Dell Latitude D830 laptop with Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2 installed and I thought that would be enough. Well, that was just not going to be the case. Once the card was inserted into the PCMCIA slot, the computer detected and installed several USB interface drivers. Then the Found New Hardware Wizard popped up on the screen asking for drivers for a Curitel Communications, Inc. device. Of course, I had no clue where to find this so I was forced to begin searching Google.com for help which quickly guided me to the Sprint support page.
To get the card functioning properly under Windows XP Professional, I visited the Sprint Software Downloads website and found the UT Starcom PC-5470 card support page. From there I downloaded the Sprint SmartView for Windows software package onto the Dell Latitude D830 Laptop while the PC-5740 card was still inserted. I ran the InstallShield Wizard which first asked to Install Bytemobile Optimization Client and I left it checked. Next, you accept license agreement, choose a skin, select install directory and begin the real installation of the Sprint SmartView package. Once complete, you will need to reboot your computer. Upon reboot, I opened the software package with the PC 5740 Wireless card inserted and was able to see it listed as connection option.
The Sprint SmartView For Windows Software Package
The sprint Mobile Broadband software was very intuitive and had a modern software interface. From the My Account menu, you can select a Digital Lounge, WiFI hotspot location finder, Coverage Maps, My Support, Test Connection Speed and access My Account.
Indentifying Your Cellular Card
I was able to quickly find the needed details about the Sprint Account for this card. I clicked Tools and choose Mobile Info to see a complete listing of the card's registration and account details. Facts like the MAC ID, phone number and email account are easily pulled from this on screen dialog box and are critical for troubleshooting tasks as well.
Everyone wants to know how fast a particular product is at doing its particular job. For a WIFI card, you simply have to get it on the internet and start downloading files. First, I clicked Test Connection Speed from the Sprint SmartView package and obtained a reading for Atlanta. I got a reading of 0.10 Mbps download and 0.17 Mbps upload while inside a large steel building. I could not get the signal to go above -63 db from any other location, most likely due to the card's internal antenna which is being blocked by the laptop itself.
Testing Website Download Speed From A Land Based Network
330 KB/sec while downloading the 44.0 Mb Sprint_Mobile_Broadband.msi package from the Sprint website using the company high speed WAN.
Before you look to deeply into these results, you must realize that I live in Lake Charles, Louisiana. We do not have the greatest cellular phone network so you could experience even higher speeds in a larger metropolitan area.
Testing Website Download Speed From The Sprint CDMA Network While Inside A Steel Building
16.7 KB/sec while downloading the 44.0 Mb Sprint_Mobile_Broadband.msi package from the Sprint website using the PC5740 card.
Testing Website Download Speed From The Sprint CDMA Network While Sitting In An Open Parking Lot -Near Tower
12.7 KB/sec while downloading the 44.0 Mb Sprint_Mobile_Broadband.msi package from the Sprint website using the PC5740 card.
The results are quite frankly, less than spectacular here. However, several limitations and factors come into play. First, the speed of the area cellular broadband network can make even the fastest laptop appear slow. Finally, as demonstrated by these tests, we see that the reception of this product is not that great either. Combining all of these factors we see that this card does do its job but not very fast.
Sprint PC-5740 Product Specifications
Modem Model Number: PC5740SP
Interface Type: PCMCIA
GPS features and service compatible
3G speed compatible
The Sprint PC-5470 can get you on the mobile internet and maintain a solid connection but that is just about it. Even though this cellular modem card only works on certain types of laptops which feature an available PCMCIA card slot, like the Gateway MT3422 RTL PC Notebook, it is still an effective means of staying connected to WIFI. The monthly fees for this card can vary greatly depending on your service contract terms but I strongly recommend getting an unlimited internet plan. Without such a plan, you could incur high additional costs if the download or upload limit is eclipsed during the course of a given month.
In all I give the Sprint PC-5740 PCMCIA Wireless Modem on thumb up and one thumb down.