23 Comments

Summary:

I am a big user of mobile 3G broadband, and was poised to upgrade to 4G with the Sprint Overdrive modem which is like my 3G solution, but faster. That’s not going to happen as a lot of folks are reporting problems with the Sprint modem.

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I have to admit that when hearing the Sprint 4G network was lit up in Houston I started tripping. I am a big user of mobile 3G broadband, and the mere thought of upping that to 4G speeds was delightful. Sprint offers the Overdrive modem which is much like the 3G-only MiFi I have been using, and I immediately starting jonesing for an upgrade. Unfortunately, after a check around the web I am very hesitant to jump from the MiFi to the Overdrive, as I am seeing a lot of folks reporting problems with the Sprint modem.

The Overdrive is a combo 3G/4G modem that taps into the Sprint network. It uses the fastest network it detects in a given location, and auto-switches between the two. It seems this doesn’t always work the way it’s intended, and a lot of users are reporting problems with this network switching.

That’s not the only problem that is being reported – owners are complaining about charging issues, device lock-ups and random network disconnects. The folks at EVDOforum are tracking these issues and reporting when fixes become available. The issues are pretty disruptive to normal use of the Overdrive, and some owners are on their second or third unit after returning defective units.

The whole situation has me leery of the Overdrive. I am totally bummed out about this as the Overdrive is absolutely perfect for the way I work, and I expect will be even more so with the iPad. But I can’t live with lousy performance, and I don’t want to bring frustration into my day knowingly, so I’m going to hold off switching. My MiFi is safe for the foreseeable future.

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  1. Clearwire sells a mobile 3G/4G hotspot through their Clear service (which is essentially the same Wimax network as Sprint). Have you checked that out?

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  2. Mine works great in Portland, Or. and Las Vegas.

    I have a MiFi and I have not used it since getting the overdrive.

    I use it as my only net connection. I just put it in my pocket
    when I leave home.

    Just my experience, YMMV

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    1. That sound good. What kind of battery life are you getting? Are you finding it won’t charge while running like a lot of owners? Even if plugged in they are reporting it won’t charge while turned on.

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      1. I’ve had mine for about 3 months.

        I’m had to reset one time.

        I keep it plugged in with the wall charger at home and
        use the battery when out and about.

        Mine charges while being used – when I unplug it to go out, it shows 100%.

        I think that the battery life is just a little less than my Verizon MiFi.

        Overall it has been a fairly good experience – looking forward to more cities like L.A.

        When I got mine at the Sprint Store in Portland, I was told that I could return it within 30 days for a complete refund. If your local Sprint store will do that, it might be worth giving it a try. Like a lot of things, experiences vary. It’s your money, you decide.

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    2. I’ve had mine for about 3 months.

      I’m had to reset one time.

      I keep it plugged in with the wall charger at home and
      use the battery when out and about.

      I think that the battery life is just a little less than my Verizon MiFi.

      Overall it has been a fairly good experience – looking forward to more cities like L.A.

      When I got mine at the Sprint Store in Portland, I was told that I could return it within 30 days for a complete refund. If your local Sprint store will do that, it might be worth giving it a try. Like a lot of things, experiences vary. It’s your money, you decide.

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  3. Yep, bleeding edge – touch it and you might just cut yourself.

    I’ll wait for a 4G-only device, and coverage where I live first.

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  4. Here’s to hoping that Sprint figures this out

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  5. So funny this was posted. I actually just got back from returning the Overdrive for the Verizon Mifi. Right now I had 3 services at some point which I originally had the AT&T service with my HP 2710P. I wanted a mobile hotspot and the Overdrive seems to be the best one out there. After having it for 2 weeks with issues everyday, I finally returned it and went out to get the Verizon Mifi.

    My AT&T data service was solid and was getting 1.60MB download and with the Overdrive I was getting .50MB. Ridiculously not worth it. I have a couple more weeks with my AT&T service and it seems like I will be switching over to the Verizon MyFI.

    I am curious though, how is the Sprint Myfi?

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  6. I’ve been using it for 1 week now in the Bay Area, no 4G yet natch but the 3G performs admirably. Interestingly it roams onto Verizon when it loses a signal (you’re allowed 300MB a month). The only issue I have is that there’s an experimental CLEAR 4G network in Mountain View/Palo Alto which is freaking out my Overdrive whenever I am in the area…need to ask Sprint what the solution is.

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    1. brian theriot Monday, July 19, 2010

      update the firmware, the sprint doesnt know about it, but the sprint website and serra wireless both have it posted for download. it cleans up the 3G/4G hand off

      I have the overdrive here in new york, and i have had problems, but they have been fixed by the new software update, originally i had problems with the unit disconnecting, overheating, not charging. also resetting and start up time were issues. the main problem was the overheating, since the 4G started being turned on here, the unit gets very hot when used in wifi while plugged in. what would happen is it would stop chargeing and let the battery die. with the Firmware update, the overheating charging problem has an acceptable solution, now what it does is when it overheats it shuts off the charging, but resumes it before it dies compeletely. also the new software fixes the long startup cycle, and the inablitly to jump between 3G and 4G witout restarting the whole unit.

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  7. Honestly, the Overdrive is the first step before everyone else hops on sometime this year and the next. Unfortunately, it’s not ready for prime time. Early adopters will experience the usual hiccups, issues, problems. I say another 8 months before it really gets going.

    Of course, some will have good experience but the majority will have issues.

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  8. The Overdrive is made by Sierra Wireless for Sprint. Cradlepoint makes cellular routers, at least 1 of which
    works with WIMAX (Sprint’s 4G) networks. The Cradlepoint
    router uses the modem (USB, ExpressCard, or PCMCIA) from
    the wireless carrier. They also make a battery perated mode. Worth a try.

    I have the Cradlepoint MBR1000 with Sprint Sierra Wireless
    597 CDMA EVDO USB modem, and any problems are usually solved
    by cycling the power to the router (and the modem). I suspect
    the problem is with the Sprint network.

    The advantage of the Cradlepoint products is that they work
    with everyone’s (Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Canadian carriers, etc.) network.

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  9. Been using the overdrive with the iPad for a week now and it stability is hoirrible on both 3G and 4g. This only with the iPad though. Laptop and iPhone are problem free. It’s not an ipad issue either, because i connect to every other wifi network without issues. Just in the time I’ve taken to write this response on the iPad it has disconnected twice and asked me to reenter the password to the wifi network. Sometimes that doesn’t work and i have to go into my iPad settings, disconnect and turn off wifi and then rejoin.

    Very disappointing. When it is connected though, it is awesome.

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    1. I’m having exactly the same issues. Many times my ipad still sees the Overdrive wifi but I have to go to the Overdrive and drop the network and rejoin. Then the ipad can get on the internet. I don’t have these issues when I ran the overdrive to have my macbook connect. I think it is an ipad issue.

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    2. brian theriot Monday, July 19, 2010

      the new firmware update for the overdrive fixes the ipad overdrive compatibility issues

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  10. For all with overdrive/iPad issues, you must go into your Overdrives administration page and change your security to WPA Personal or WPA-2 if it is set to WEP you will experience issues. I switched to WPA Personal and it is rock solid. Try it!

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