Telus EVDO Mini Review

As most of you know I'm not much of a gadget guy, but I do trial
products and services every now and then. I was recently given a chance to try out Telus Mobility's EVDO service, which basically gives my laptop mobile broadband service in Canada.

In principal, mobile broadband is a great idea, but for someone who works at his desk 95% of the time, it's not exactly a must-have. However, that didn't stop me from using it on an everyday basis at my office. I just didn't bother using my Rogers broadband service while this trial was on. It's still a bona fide environment to use the service, but of course, it's not the intended one.

I'm more than happy to review the service and share my experience with
you, but there's not really much to say, so that's why I'm calling this a mini review. In short, I plugged the USB modem into my laptop and it didn't take long to configure at all. Once it was installed, the signal kicked in automatically whenever the PC was turned on, and voila, it worked like it's supposed to.

I'm not much of a power user, so I didn't bother testing speeds and
feeds or trying to download big files. All I can tell you is that the
speed and performance was on par with my Rogers service, so for me, it was business as usual.

The USB modem was a Sierra Wireless AirCard 595U - which may mean more to you than to me. It's a bit bulky, but the long portion of the modem was hinged, so it could swivel away from its normal vertical position. In my case, I usually had the modem connected to the USB port on the back of my PC. Sometimes I tilt the PC screen down and away quite far, and in these cases, the modem just eases backwards along with the screen. So, it keeps on working and doesn't get bent out of shape. That's a small thing - and is probably pretty standard design for these devices - but this type of flexibility is important as PC's have all kinds of configurations in terms of where the USB ports are located.

The main attraction, though is the Telus EVDO network. All mobile
operators want to sell you mobile broadband - after all, we're all using laptops these days, right? Some of us can live entirely on their
BlackBerry, but most of us would rather be using their PC's when away from home/office. So, whether EVDO is your only broadband option, or a handy complement to BlackBerry, there's no denying it's a great thing to have.

Telus is also offering a faster Rev A network, but I really didn't bother looking to see which version of the service I was on. It didn't much matter to me, as the service worked as expected whenever and wherever I used it.

That said, I did have a couple of chances to take this on the road - a
trip to Ottawa and a few meetings downtown here in Toronto. My
experience was pretty consistent for all these instances, so I would have to conclude that wherever they have good coverage, the service should work pretty well.

I wish I had more opportunity to travel with this, as it's a very
liberating feeling to know that pretty much wherever you go there's
broadband ready and waiting. No need to hunt for WiFi hotspots or worry about how much the hotel charges for Internet access. And of course, the freedom to use your PC anywhere else - where in most cases you're probably the only person on the Net.

Other than the fact that the modem ties up a USB port, there's not much to complain about, really. I can't vouch for how secure the signal is, or how well it holds up for high-bandwidth usage, but for everyday usage, it's a great service. Telus also has various rate plans to suit all types of users, which only makes sense. So, there are 3 tiers of monthly plans depending on usage levels, and shorter term plans for day long needs. Nothing unique there, but I just wanted to point out the flexible nature of these plans, which to me is important to make this service more appealing to the mass market.

I know lots of people who live by EVDO, especially in the U.S., and if
I had their lifestyle, I'd be doing the same. I love the freedom of
BlackBerry for my email (but it also makes you a slave...), but really, it's much more practical for receiving and reading emails than it is for sending. Once you've got mobile broadband, there's a lot more you can do on the PC than any mobile device, and with laptops getting smaller and more powerful, the case for EVDO will just keep getting stronger. Seems to me that Telus should be looking to partner with laptop makers as much as with all the other devices featured on their website. In my view, EVDO is the best reason for upgrading a laptop, and a nice bundle here would make a lot of sense.

Anyone out there using this service? Would love to hear from you.

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