Telstra Turbo 7 series ExpressCard modem

Get online while on the road

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Telstra Turbo 7 series ExpressCard
  • Telstra Turbo 7 series ExpressCard
  • Telstra Turbo 7 series ExpressCard
  • Telstra Turbo 7 series ExpressCard

Pros

  • ExpressCard/34 form factor, Next G compatibility, Mac OS support, external antenna

Cons

  • Mac OS drivers not provided, SIM card difficult to extract

Bottom Line

Telstra’s Turbo 7 series ExpressCard is a viable option for mobile broadband. With Next G compatibility and Mac OS support, we only had slight issues with this device.

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Telstra's Turbo 7 series ExpressCard is a Next G-compatible 3G modem for those who need Internet on the go. A refresh of the company's Turbo 3 series, this device provides better upload speeds while retaining the same fast download speeds. Driver installation isn't perfect, particularly for Mac users, but download speeds are quite fast and the additional external antenna makes the card adaptable to any number of situations.

The modem comes has an ExpressCard/34 form factor, meaning that Macbook Pro users everywhere can get in on the action. For those who have an ExpressCard/54 slot, you're not forgotten — the device comes packaged with an adaptor. The relatively new form factor isn't compatible with the PC Card slots common in older notebooks, so those users are better off with Telstra's Turbo 7 Wireless Gateway instead.

The Turbo 7 ExpressCard is quite slim and, although it protrudes a further 5cm beyond the ExpressCard slot, is largely unobtrusive. Three LEDs provide basic status information: power, 3G reception and 2G reception in cases where there is no Next G reception.

Network identification is achieved through a USIM slot, allowing users to simply utilise their existing Next G SIM provided it is data-enabled. Slotting neatly into the bottom of the ExpressCard, the SIM card can actually be slightly difficult to retrieve; users have to wedge an object into the small slot in order to retrieve it. It's definitely not an elegant solution, but it shouldn't be too troublesome unless you regularly switch between SIM cards.

An accompanying CD provides the necessary drivers and software to use the ExpressCard with Windows. Support is provided for Mac OS, but users must download the card's Mac OS drivers from the Web site of Telstra or Sierra Wireless. Once installed, the connection manager searches for the ExpressCard and automatically recognises its intended carrier. Connection isn't automatic, however — users are required to manually connect to the Next G network every time the ExpressCard is inserted.

Although the Turbo 7 ExpressCard has an integrated receiver, Telstra has also provided an external antenna to aid in situations where reception is weak. The antenna doesn't always provide a massive boost in speed, but it does give users the chance to experiment in order to get slightly better reception.

Next G speeds were mostly impressive. We tested the ExpressCard by downloading small and medium files both indoors and outdoors from a variety of high bandwidth Web sites, including Telstra's own download server. Outdoors under a clear sky, the ExpressCard achieved an average speed of 153KBps and a top speed of 298.9KBps. While surrounded by double brick walls, speeds dropped as low as 77.9KBps; speed improved slightly when we experimented with the position of the external antenna. The best results were actually achieved indoors on a different day — we managed speeds averaging 279KBps, with a maximum of 511KBps when accessing Apple's MobileMe iDisk.

Speeds tended to vary on a day-to-day basis. In the majority of cases, however, speeds were acceptable.

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