Industry News

EVDO Cards Rock!


EVDO laptops do not.

Yesterday Verizon announced that Lenovo (aka IBM Thinkpads), HP, and I believe it was Dell, are going to make laptops with built-in connectivity to Verizon’s EVDO 3G network (1.5Mbs wherever there’s cell phone coverage in major cities)! Sony also has a laptop out right now with Cingular’s EDGE network built-in… which is way slower than EVDO! What were they thinking?

This is awesome news, because as you may know, I LOVE EVDO!

Except, no wait, this is stupid news. Well, the news itself isn’t stupid, just the laptop manufacturers are.

Don’t they know there’s already tons of EVDO PCMCIA cards that work just fine? I guess they don’t.

Well, probably they do. But right now they’re thinking:

“People used to need WI-FI cards and now it’s just built-in! Same thing’s going to happen with EVDO!”

Well, they’re partly right. The same thing will most likely happen with EVDO.. but this is not the same thing!

When you buy a laptop with built-in 802.11g, does it only work at Starbucks on the T-Mobile hot spots? When you get a laptop with a built-in modem, does it only dial AOL? When you get a laptop with an integrated DVD drive, does it only play Disney movies?

If your answer is “yes”, my condolences. You sir, are a sucker!

As much as T-Mobile, AOL, and Disney would love for that to be the case, the world just doesn’t work like that. When people buy a piece of hardware, they expect to be able to use it how they’d like, without a lot of weird exclusive tie-ins to some kind of provider.

So although a laptop with a built-in EVDO modem would be cool, a laptop with a built-in Verizon-only EVDO modem is not.

But people get cell phones that only work with one provider!

That is true.. and hopefully these laptops will be FREE with a 2-year contract! If so, I take it back, this is awesome news!

But, if it somehow turns out this is not the case, let me enumerate the pros and cons of getting one of these new EVDO-enabled laptops vs. a plain-old EVDO PCMCIA card like the one I’m touching right now. (There, I just touched it for real.)


* I assume there will be better integration with the laptop. I.E., no ghastly EVDO card sticking out the side, no software to install, perhaps better power management. You don’t use up your PCMCIA slot too.. but really, what uses those anymore besides EVDO cards?


* They can work on all laptops (including OS X and Linux), not just a few Windows machines made by three manufacturers.

* Later, if you decide to switch to Sprint’s future EVDO network, or go overseas, you can just ebay your card and buy another, rather than having to replace your whole laptop.

* Ditto if an even BETTER wireless technology than EVDO comes out someday.

* If you have a company (like us) with a lot of people remotely on call (like us), you can just buy a few EVDO cards and share them for whomever’s on call (like we do), rather than buy everybody a brand new (Dell/HP/Lenovo) laptop they probably don’t even want.

What I guess I’m saying is, I wouldn’t pay for one of these laptops just for the (still theoretically) better integration.

And I’m rich!

About the author

Josh Jones