updated 04:40 pm EDT, Thu May 15, 2008
MBA-Friendly 3G for Sprint
Sprint will soon sell a Novatel 3G modem that properly supports the MacBook Air's USB opening, if a spec sheet for the device obtained by Phone Arena proves accurate. The US carrier is reportedly set to launch the as-yet unannounced Novatel U680, an extra-thin USB modem which is explicitly compatible with the Air's slot. Novatel's device would support Sprint's faster EVDO Revision A network and is labeled in the leak as a "zero install" adapter that automatically loads drivers for most operating systems. Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows would all be served by the device.
The information supplied along with the leak also point to a near-term release for the U680, with business customers getting first access on June 11th followed by a wider release on June 15th. Novatel's equipment will purportedly sell for $250 without any contract but should be discounted to as low as $100 after signing up for a two-year data plan.
Sprint's angled 595U broadband adapter from Sierra Wireless and the mini, USB-based Compass, introduced by Sierra earlier this year, already support the MacBook Air's opening; Sprint also rolled out improved Mac Connection Manager software at CTIA with GPS support and other features.