AT&T just officially outed the USBConnect Mercury 3G card at the bargain-basement price of free. Well, the hardware itself is free, but of course you’re enlisting in the AT&T army for two years at no less than $60 a month for your wireless broadband. While James prefers Express Card solutions for 3G, I lean towards USB offerings like this one; since USB is prevalent on just about every computing device, I’m not as limited when making computer purchases.
A nice feature with the USBConnect Mercury is that the AT&T Communication Manager software is essentially built into memory on the device itself. That means you can literally plug this unit into a Windows 2000, XP or Vista machine without needing an optical drive, install and surf. For Mac users in the house running OSX 10.4.11 or greater, the hardware includes the Sierra Watcher software as well.
Like my USB 727 that I currently use on the Verizon Wireless network, this device also offers a microSD card reader. Very handy in a pinch. Since the USBConnect Mercury card runs on the AT&T network, it uses HSDPA and offers speeds up to 1.7 MBps down and up to 1.2 MBps back up, which is a tad faster than my current EV-DO solution. The difference is probably not very noticable and it’s more important that you research your coverage area first when considering a 3G solution like this. I didn’t once before and I paid the price!
NOTE: this picture is the Sierra Wireless Compass 885 modem; the AT&T USBConnect Mercury may appear differently, but AT&T doesn’t have an image of it with their press release, nor is it showing in their online store just yet.