Only a week after I had purchased the Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go USB card, I returned it to Best Buy, the exclusive reseller of this product.
Last week, I wrote about the Broadband2Go card with somewhat of a glowing review because of the fact that it was available without a contract and actually connected through Sprint’s EVDO network.
So why didn’t it survive my bag of gadgets. It’s pretty simple.
Windows Only Support
I use both a Mac and PC and most of them time I am using Windows on top of my Mac. This means that wherever I go, I usually have my Mac with me so I can work on both personal and business-related stuff.
Even though the Virgin Mobile website indicates that the system requirements include Mac OS 10.3, and the modem drivers actually install on my Mac, there is no “Connection Manager” type software. I did manage to get the modem to connect to the Sprint network, but attempts to surf the web were filled with errors and lots of slowness.
I should’ve known this from the beginning when I discovered that the modem had to activated (programmed) on a Windows PC.
Weird Connectivity Issues
I call it “weird” because I got it home and found that I only had one bar for reception off of the card in Windows. The activation process was extremely slow – took me about 30 minutes in whole to get the card activated. Page loads were slow. I have never had problems with Sprint coverage in my house previously.
Questionable Customer Support
Since not working on a Mac was a deal breaker, I returned it to Best Buy. I called Virgin Mobile to cancel my account and was greeted with someone who I couldn’t completely understand and in the end took about 15-20 minutes to close my account as he “worked on the system”. I was holding a screaming baby for all of the 20 minutes, but that didn’t seem to make him work any faster. When I was asked about why I wanted to cancel, I plainly told the rep that the card didn’t work on a Mac. I didn’t expect any technical banter, but I did also mention that the Virgin website includes Mac OS in their system requirements. In the end, my account was closed, but my opinion of Virgin Mobile, although somewhat appealing, is now questionable.
In the end…
I still wanted to have an aircard so I went back to Best Buy and purchased the AT&T Quicksilver aircard. This aircard has support for both Mac and PC and was functional and ready-to-go when I left the location.
Both Windows and Mac have a connection manager that gets installed as soon as you insert the card. I found this to be handy.
The only quirk for me was that the firmware update that was recommended required Windows to apply the firmware update. My opinion is that if you are going to support an OS, make sure that your application and any required utilities also support the OS. Although they clearly noted on the website that the Mac firmware update was in development, you need to have this. If I am a “Mac-Only” user, I’m left in the cold if I need that firmware update (which according to the website connectivity issues and provides stability), things that most people would like.