Review LG VL600 USB modem on Verizon LTE

first_imgIn lower Manhattan (varying locations) I’m seeing speeds of about 14-16Mbps down and 4-5Mbps up. For reference, that’s faster than a Time Warner cable broadband account (about 15 down/0.5 up), which is the standard here in Manhattan. Reasonable 3G speeds are about 4/1Mbps down/up so we are looking at about a real-life 4x improvement.Let’s keep in mind though that this falls well short of the 100/50Mbps theoretically speeds made available by 3GPP LTE. This isn’t so much a downside as it is room for growth as networks mature. That said, speeds could very well go down before they go up. The 4G network is under little load at the moment (based on my anecdotal observations) so it could slow down a bit once more people go with LTE.The question of need soon arises. You don’t actually need 16/4Mbps speeds when you are out, do you? Most people don’t require anything close, especially if you are working with a data cap, but if you do need to upload a lot of photos or download a large file there is no replacement for raw speed. The two most important things about LTE are that you can have broadband like speeds on-the-go and that you can, theoretically, use it as a replacement for a cable line (if you are mindful of your data that is).As for the hardware, the VL600 is like a 3G modem from 2-3 years ago. It’s bulky enough to block the USB ports around it (especially on a notebook) and it lacks a card reader so you won’t have a useful microSD slot built in. The biggest flaw of course is that it’s not a mobile hotspot, so you can only connect a single device at a time and you can’t get your tablet or phone connected with it.I’d say the one high point was that that the USB cover is built in so you’ll never lose it, but even this could cause problems. The cap flips down and can actually protrude from the side of your laptop to under the lid, so if you close your computer with the cap flipped down it won’t be pretty (you can bet it’s the LCD that’s damaged, not the cap). So overall the design is very first gen and I’m looking forward to seeing these slim down and improve over time. It does include a mini dock and USB extension if you don’t want to block your laptops’s ports or chance closing your laptop on it.Verizon’s mandatory software, VZAccess Manager, is still clunky, though it seems to get a little bit better each time I use it. Version 7.2.5 (Mac) gives me weird SMS errors and takes a long time to detect the modem when it’s inserted into the USB slot, but ultimately it works well enough and I have extended periods of usage without problems. When I do need to use it, it’s not much fun though.The VL600 is $99 with a 2-year agreement (normal price is $249), but it’s actually out of stock at the moment. This leaves users with the Pantech UML290 LTE modem (which gets lower ratings from Verizon users). A Verizon 4G data plan goes for $50 a month for 5GB and $80 for 10GB, with both plans charging a hefty $10/GB for any overages. So you get the speeds you want, but you definitely pay for it.The LG VL600 combines with Verizon’s young LTE network to make for an excellent mobile experience. Here in Manhattan the connection is stable, extremely fast, and signals are strong. The modem itself isn’t great and the service is expensive, but if you need lots of speed away from an ethernet port this is the best bet.verizon_lte_geek_01verizon_lte_geek_01speedtest_lte_geekookla_lte_testlte_speed_accessManlg_v600_modem_geekThe modem and service used this article were provided by Verizon Wireless. Verizon’s LTE network has been available for a few months now, but it has yet to have an impact on the majority of data users. It takes time and money to switch devices (and carriers for that matter) so as excited as we may be, LTE “4G” is still a ways off for most of us. And even if you want to pay for it, Verizon’s LTE coverage is still limited to 39 markets and 60 airports. Full coverage in the US should be available in 2013.In order to give Verizon’s new network a shot I tested out the LG VL600 LTE USB modem. If you ask Verizon it’s the “LG VL600 4G USB Modem” but the 4G-ness of it is an argument for another day. Regardless of which side of the 4G divide you fall on, two things are clear: 1) it’s running on an LTE network and 2) it’s a good deal faster than 4G.And how fast is it? After all, the speed really is what this device is all about–if it wasn’t for the use of LTE it would just be another USB modem. This article would mostly be me complaining how the VL600 wasn’t a USB hotspot and that it took two months for LG/Verizon to release Mac drivers. But it does use LTE and it’s very fast.last_img read more