Hands On: Sprint 'Overdrive' the home broadband killer?

Yesterday, Neowin covered the Sprint press event where Sprint unveiled their 'Overdrive' mobile hotspot that boasts 3G and 4G connectivity. The device is being marketed as a home broadband replacement as well as a mobile hotspot. Overdrive connects to Sprint's 4G (WiMax) service and produces a mobile hotspot for up to 5 devices.

The Overdrive which we received this morning does exactly what you would expect. It provides a very simple setup and allows you to easily connect any Wi-Fi enabled device seamlessly and use it as you would any other hot spot. The device does provide a layer of security to block unwanted individuals from connecting to your 'Overdrive'; when you connect to the 'Overdrive' you are required to input a password that is displayed on the screen of the device.

The 4G experience is truly as good as the advertising makes it appear. When using the 'Overdrive' it feels as if you are using a wired connection, we have had very little issues with the service dropping (only happened while riding in the shuttle from the convention center to the hotel) and it is allowing us to report news from any location as finding an open Wi-fi connection has proved to be troublesome.

The 'Overdrive' is capable of doing VOIP calls, connecting to Xbox Live (with no lag while playing COD MW2), uploading large videos to YouTube, and not crawling to a halt when 5 people are on the connection all using bandwidth intensive applications. The video posted below shows a VOIP call that demonstrates the low latency of the 4G network.

One of the less talked about features, but something we have found to be a great idea, is that there is a micro SD slot on the device. You can insert up to a 16GB card and use it as a network storage device.

While we have only had the product for about 12 hours it is already proving to be invaluable whilst reporting at CES. The reliability of the network, the ease of setup and use, makes this a great product and a pleasure to use. Stay with Neowin as we will provide a full in-depth review once we have had more time to dig into all the feature that the 'Overdrive' offers.

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34 Comments

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Clear/Sprint 4G aren't limited to 5GB/m. It's unlimited on most packages, but some cheaper packages have caps like that.

I think that these types of mobile high speed internet services that are coming from the providers will eventually be a "broadband killer." Doesn't surprise me that a lot of the users here don't see it that way. Average joe-Internet users don't care that its only 4mbps and not 16mbps+ or that the latency is 250ms+ instead of 60ms+.

4mbps is still "high speed internet" in my book, and most Internet users would be content with that. With the awesome mobility of the whole package this does look very attractive to a lot of users. But I don't see a lot of users wanting to pay for both their land line and this.

home broadband killer? uh yea... I'd never take wireless over wired for a good internet connection... I dont care if they fix latency issues and make it "fast" I still get way better reliability on a fiber link then I'd ever get on a wireless link... this whole everything wireless is a little annoying to me... if you dont move your stuff around a lot then just wire the thing up and leave it where it is... like a keyboard / mouse that never move from their location... why is wired so bad? the whole the cord is ugly thing is just astetics to me... i dont care about the cord as I dont have to worry about batteries running out or "range" or something interfearing with the signal somehow... but that is just my opinnion

The real question I would have is bandwith caps.. It's all well and good if it's fast, but if it's got a limit that's a joke, then it's a joke too..

So this Overdrive "feels just like a wired connection". How is it a home broadband killer?

Wired broadband will always be superior (reliability, speed, etc.) to a wireless connection.

Looks nice. Hopefully in 2 years when my Verizon contract is up, they can provide a good level of service where I live. For now I'm stuck overpaying.

Fastest is 16Mbps/4Mbps. And low latency? That was the worst VoIP call I ever heard. Try doing that on Comcast with Skype to a landline and there's no echo like that. Latency on wireless is terrible, just like in the video. There shouldn't be that kind of delay in communication, it leads to one person to start talking at the same time and interrupting each other.

Kushan said,
Do you not think the "echo" might have been because the receiving phone was right next to the other phone?

You are correct, the blackberry was calling the desktop phone, the desktop was being powered by the 4g, so you were hearing both sides of the conversation

Kushan said,
Do you not think the "echo" might have been because the receiving phone was right next to the other phone?

Precisely, and what it was telling us is it takes nearly a second for the receiving end to hear what we say and so on. That's high latency. I just hope they fix this problem someday soon, because WiMAX is capable of wireline latency. They are deliberately increasing the latency on the 4G network for some reason.

Thats the first thing I wondered, the secodn was what kind of usage caps will the plans have, and the third. UK Networks, When ?!?!

Inertia said,
Thats the first thing I wondered, the secodn was what kind of usage caps will the plans have, and the third. UK Networks, When ?!?!

no data caps still working on getting an average up/down speed...its all over

Looks like engadet has measured it at 4mpbs down and .8 up so far in the Las Vegas area. So a bit faster than what Clearwire has been offering as their max of 1.5mbps.

http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/07/sprint-...g-and-hands-on/

If it is cheaper than my broadband here, I will more than likely jump on it. Of course, I will run it through the speed tests inside the corporate store here once it becomes available. I didn't see it on Sprint's home page as of yet or in their site.

Medfordite said,
Looks like engadet has measured it at 4mpbs down and .8 up so far in the Las Vegas area. So a bit faster than what Clearwire has been offering as their max of 1.5mbps.

http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/07/sprint-...g-and-hands-on/

If it is cheaper than my broadband here, I will more than likely jump on it. Of course, I will run it through the speed tests inside the corporate store here once it becomes available. I didn't see it on Sprint's home page as of yet or in their site.

Releases the 10th.

[quote=Medfordite said,]Looks like engadet has measured it at 4mpbs down and .8 up so far in the Las Vegas area. So a bit faster than what Clearwire has been offering as their max of 1.5mbps.
quote]


I have been getting anywhere from 2 - 9 down .6 - 1.3 up

[quote=bdsams said,]Looks like engadet has measured it at 4mpbs down and .8 up so far in the Las Vegas area. So a bit faster than what Clearwire has been offering as their max of 1.5mbps.
[/quote]

I have been getting anywhere from 2 - 9 down .6 - 1.3 up[/quote]
When I was talking to the sprint rep, she said at her hotel she was getting 1.5 up...either way, anything near 1mbps up is amazing on the road

She also said that a 4G phone should be out by end of year

Kushan said,
So what kind of speeds does this actually get? Both up and down.

In addition to speeds, what kind of latency do you see on this? Is it significantly worse than a hardwired connection?

Xilo said,
Wow, 4mbps is waaaay too slow for a home connection.

That's fairly average for a broadband connection in the US. We get 6.6Mpbs here on cable.

Medfordite said,
Looks like engadet has measured it at 4mpbs down and .8 up so far in the Las Vegas area. So a bit faster than what Clearwire has been offering as their max of 1.5mbps.

I have "Clear" home WiMax and typically get 5-7mb down and 1-2 up for $25/35 per month ($25 for first 6 months then $35)

I don't know if people realize it, but Sprint 4G, Clear (formerly ClearWire), and Comcast Wireless (forget what they branded it as) are all the same... Clear is essentially the love child of the Sprint / Comcast "partnerships" from 5 or 6 years ago.

I'm glad to see Sprint providing more offerings... I just hope the pricepoint is right (one of these for $20 a month on top of my full-access $70 per month Wireless plan would be the sweet spot for me to get it.... $40 a month stand-alone would sound reasonable as well). I just couldn't buy into Clear's "broadband replacement" sales pitch... at least not at the same price I get Cable Internet for.

They differ in one key aspect--PRICE! I used Sprint's Xohm 4G service when it came out last winter and I still use it since it has been rebranded as Clear. Pricing was $25/month for 6 months and then $35/month. No contracts, no nothing. You buy the modem and that's about it. My laptop also has a WiMax radio built in so I can use that as well if I wanted to (I don't since I share it via WiFi in the house).

If you are in a market that offers Sprint or Clearwire WiMax and want it for the home, make sure you check the pricing from them. Sprint seems to be charging more. This is better for taking with you and works in 3g and 4g which is good for something but if you want it for home, look to Clear.

To answer some other questions I get around 7mbps and usually around 1-2mbps up.

Right here. I'll never use or buy from them again after the way they treated me. They tried to charge me an early termination fee after I'd been with them for 6 years on an auto-renew contract. I'm sorry, but 6 years isn't an early termination, and that acidic taste in my mouth from that will never go away.

I have been with SPrint a while now myself. I still don't understand why some people would chose Verizon with their high fees over Sprint. With the current rates there is no way I would leave.

I have been with Sprint/Nextel for a while myself now and never had any drastic issues. It'd be nice if the bill was a bit lower but who wouldnt mind that.
This device looks cool though.

Tech Star said,
Where are all the Sprint haters now saying that their network and stuff is crap now?

This is a cool product, but it's a shame it's on Sprint...

Their network may be good in some areas, but it's really bad near me, so I can't get it obviously... Not as bad as AT&T, but not good either...

GreyWolfSC said,
Right here. I'll never use or buy from them again after the way they treated me. They tried to charge me an early termination fee after I'd been with them for 6 years on an auto-renew contract. I'm sorry, but 6 years isn't an early termination, and that acidic taste in my mouth from that will never go away.

OMG, that's insane. Sprint is really horrible to do business with though. They quoted our business a plan that would cost $ 800 per month. Not bad. But then we got the first bill, then the second bill. They were charging us $ 14,000 per month (Obviously not right for 10 phones.). They refused to correct this, and the best we can tell they never even looked into it (Because had they I imagine they would have seen an issue).

I can't go with them because I want my own plan. Not some pre-set plan. There plans don't have an option for a smartphone and a regular phone which does not get data, only the smartphone would get data. They don't have this.