Verizon Wireless USB727 Modem Review

WiFi access points seem to be easier and easier to come by these days. Heck, even McDonald’s and Dairy Queen allow you to get your net fix while you’re chowing down on a burger and shake. But what do you do during the times when you need net access from your laptop and there’s no WiFi at your location? If you have Verizon Wireless cellular coverage, you could use the USB727 Modem.

Verizon Wireless USB727 modem

Hardware Specifications

BroadbandAccess and NationalAccess Compatible
2–in–1 USB Device: BroadbandAccess and Memory storage (4GB+ capacity–sold separately)
Rev. A Capable: Typical download speeds of 600–1400 kbps and upload speeds of 500–800 kbps*
Compatible with all devices supporting the Type A USB interface including desktops, notebooks, tablet PCs and PDAs
High performance, flip–up antenna
External Antenna Port/Connector (external antenna sold separately)
3–color service state LED
2–way Text Messaging capable (via VZAccess Manager)
NDIS driver support
VPN compatible

Verizon Wireless USB727 modem

Package Contents

USB727 modem
Neck strap
User guide
Driver / application CD for Windows and OS X

Verizon Wireless USB727 modem

The USB727 modem looks a bit like an oversized USB flash drive. At 2.76 x 0.98 x 0.47 inches and 1.13 ounces, it will fit into pretty much any pocket or gear bag with ease.

Verizon Wireless USB727 modem

Speaking of it looking like a flash drive, this modem has a MicroSD slot in the side that will allow you to do just that. There’s also an external antenna connector hidden behind a rubber plug.

Verizon Wireless USB727 modem

To begin using the USB727, you first have to install the VZAccess Manager application that is included on a CD, or can be downloaded from the Verizon Wireless website. There’s a version for both Windows and OS X. I tested the USB727 exclusively on my MSI Wind netbook running Windows XP. After the software is installed, you can then plug in the modem.

Verizon Wireless USB727 modem

VZAccess Manager will allow you to control both the cellular USB727 modem, and your WiFi connections. As you will notice in the screen shot above, it sees the USB727 modem (listed as NationalAccess – Broadband Access) and my gadgetnet WiFi access point. From that screen, you can double click one to initiate a connection. When the connection is established, you can surf like you would with any other broadband access.

Verizon Wireless USB727 modem

I live very close to a Verizon tower, with EV-DO access. I was able to easily connect in various areas of my home, including the basement. The USB727 modem has a small flip up antenna, but I didn’t really notice any real difference with it in the up or down position.

This modem will work with EV-DO rev A. It seems that Verizon is currently calling their two wireless network technologies NationalAccess and BroadbandAccess respectively. The USB727 should give you average speeds of 60-80 kbps and bursts up to 144 kbps on NationalAccess (non-EV-DO). For BroadbandAccess (EV-DO), typical download speeds of 600 Kbps – 1.4 Mbps and upload speeds of 500-800 Kbps can be expected. Here are some tests that I did using speedtest.net.

Verizon Wireless USB727 modem

Tested in my home, upstairs at around 5pm or so EST.

Verizon Wireless USB727 modem

Verizon Wireless USB727 modem

Verizon Wireless USB727 modem

These last three tests were captured at my day job around 2pm EST. I did three consecutive tests and as you can see, the results were quite different.

Despite the varied speed results, surfing, watching YouTube videos, downloading files, etc, felt quite snappy with this modem. I didn’t notice any lagging during the times I was using it.

Verizon Wireless USB727 modem

In addition to managing connections with the USB272 modem and your WiFi card, the VZAccess Manager can show you an access log of those connections.

Verizon Wireless USB727 modem

It can also show you the total data you’ve used for the month, and when it will reset.

You can even send and receive SMS text messages from the VZAccess Manager application. When a message is received, your laptop will make an annoying buzz type noise to let you know you have a message. There are no graphical indications though, so if you miss the audio alert, you’ll not know you have a new message unless you click the TXT icon in the manager app.

The modem itself is pretty cheap at $80. The only problem is that you have to commit to a 2yr plan and pay a monthly data usage fee. Right now, there are just 2 plans to choose from:

5 GB of data for $59.99/mo. ($0.25 for additional megabyte)
50 MB of data for $39.99/mo. ($0.25 for additional megabyte)

I don’t know about you, but I would go through 50 megabytes in a wink of the eye… An additional $40 or $60 a month over and beyond a regular cellphone plan probably makes this device prohibitive for most folks. But for those that can afford it, I found the Verizon Wireless USB727 modem to be an extremely easy to use and capable device. If you don’t want to rely on WiFi access points, free or for pay, this might be just the device to keep you connected on the road.

 

Product Information

Price:79.99
Manufacturer:Verizon
Requirements:
  • Supports Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher
Pros:
  • Easy to use
  • MicroSD card slot
Cons:
  • Requires a monthly data plan
Posted in: Wireless

{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Avaviel November 5, 2008, 11:37 pm

    Personally, I use my jailbroken iPhone 3G and a program called PDANet. It works well… of course, there is still setup to do on the PC and iPhone, and it must be jailbroken. But it is less setup than if it was on a non-jailbroken iPhone with NetShare, or other sharing programs. PDANet makes the iPhone into a router.

    Of course, if you use this you don’t want to use too much, because they might slap you with a big fine. But I’ve not had issues using it for normal surfing and minor downloading. Now if you go using torrents and stuff like that, you as asking for them to get you!

  • Julie November 6, 2008, 7:04 am

    Avaviel:

    Yes, I agree that tethering a cellphone is another way to go. Unfortunately for me, I don’t have 3G coverage (AT&T) in my area. But, I have EV-DO (Verizon). Doesn’t Verizon try to block tethering with their phones?

  • EVDOalex November 6, 2008, 9:34 am

    Am guessing you mean verizon blocks use of tethering for folks who aren’t paying for the ‘data feature’ that allows tethering.

    If ‘data feature’ is enabled on a voice plan and the handset is a model that has vzam software available to it, tethering is officially supported by verizon. software is at vzam.net

    ATT is a lousy choice for actual “3G” coverage… the vast majority of ATT’s U.S. coverage is actually their EDGE/GPRS network. Check out graphic that is part of this blogpost.

    and finally, back to the actual review on this site!

    the USB727 rocks… as with all these devices, “signal is king” and judging from your speedtest results you either need better signal, or the tower you are connected to is overworked/underfed.

    its best not to judge signal via “bars” and instead learn the relationship between RSSI and speedtests. This article helps

    lastly, one very cool way to share the EVDO connection is this “portable hotspot” from cradlepoint: PHS300

    sooner or later, everyone who gets turned on to EVDO, wants to be able to share the love with more than just the one computer their modem is attached to! ;-)

    [Edited at November 06, 2008 09:36:50 AM.]

    [Edited at November 06, 2008 09:37:19 AM.]

    [Edited at November 06, 2008 09:37:36 AM.]

  • Julie November 6, 2008, 10:02 am

    EVDOinfo:

    In my review, I didn’t complain about my speed results :o) I was perfectly happy with the speed. Surfing around and watching YouTube vids with the USB727 really didn’t feel significantly different than surfing on my iMac using my T1 line. The only time I really noticed the speed diff was in downloading large files.

  • shkermaker November 6, 2008, 5:59 pm

    Never understood why it’s so expensive for you guys in the states. In the UK we have the choice of 5 networks who all offer 3G access with 3-5Gb of usage a month for £15-20 (depending which network you opt for) on either and 18 or 24 month contract AND the modem is free!!!!

    At the moment as well, some stores are offering massive subsidies on Laptops/Netbooks if you sign up for 24 month contracts e.g. The MSI Wind you love so much is free at PC World if you sign up to 3’s £25 a month service for 24 months with 5gb of usage.

  • Andy Van Pelt November 6, 2008, 9:26 pm

    Julie,

    Is it really EDGE, or is it 1x? Verizon, as a CDMA carrier, would not be able to transmit an EDGE signal. Are they partnering with ATT/T-Mobile to use the EDGE network?

    Question: Is there any kind of rental market for these kinds of things? This would be wonderful when I travel, and completely unnecessary when I don’t.

  • Julie November 7, 2008, 6:41 am

    Andy:
    You’re right, I had my terminology wrong… Verizon has EV-DO, not Edge. Sorry about that…

  • Jim December 19, 2008, 4:29 pm

    I’m very impressed with the USB727, it works extrememly well when it works. I’ve wrestled to install the Verizon Access Manager on 3 different computers, & had a terrible time getting the computer to recognize the hardware properly. Spent many hours with Verizon tech support. There VERY nice to work with but not real tech savy. I’ve had the modem replaced by Verizon and had worse results with the replacement. I’m waiting for my 3rd unit.
    If anyone’s had success solving driver installation problems I would really like to hear about it.

  • Julie December 19, 2008, 8:29 pm

    Jim:
    Bummer! I didn’t have those issues when I tested the modem. I wish I still had one actually… I just don’t want to pay the monthly fee :)

  • Stephen January 12, 2009, 8:10 pm

    Has anyone been successful with the MicroSD reader on this USB727?

    I picked up a 4 gig card today and cannot get it recognized in any of my computers… I’m not too sure if it’s the card, the built in reader, or what….

  • Susan Lucas November 1, 2009, 12:38 pm

    I used daypasswireless.com for a short trip where I knew wifi would not be an option and it’s GREAT. The Verizon USB727 arrived in the mail as promised, the rental is less than $8/day (remember I have no other options) and I’ll pop it in the mail as I leave for home. Only criticism–they charge $4.95 each way for shipping, and then send it first class mail. I hate when shipping is padded; why don’t they just say handling or processing or something? Also wonder what happens if it gets lost in the mail due to no tracking. Hope I don’t find out. Anyway, glad it’s there, easy to use, and I don’t have to be out of touch.

  • Julie November 2, 2009, 8:51 am

    @Susan Thanks for the tip. I’d not heard of daypasswireless. I might use it on my next trip – if I don’t buy a MiFi or other wireless modem.

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