Friday, July 20, 2007

New toy: Novatel Merlin XU870

After i had been using an Option GT 3+ (nozomi driver) and an GT Fusion (with an useless Marvell WLAN chip inside), i today got a Novatel Merlin XU870 ExpressCard to play with.
After plugging it in its ExpressCard->CardBus adapter and into my Notebook running openSUSE 10.3alpha6, two usb-serial ports appear, of which you can only use the first one, the second port needs some magic, so it is not usable yet.
This is the only major disadvantage of this card vs. the Option cards: with the Option cards you can monitor signal strength and network status while being online, using umtsmon for example, with the Novatel you can't.
On the pro side, i like the non-blinking Novatel status LED much more than Option's nervously blinking 2 LEDs. It has 5 colors for different network states:
    yellow: HSDPA

    blue: UMTS (3G)

    magenta: EDGE ("2.5G")

    green: GPRS

    red: error (no network)

Which is almost as good as monitoring via umtsmon. Also, the Novatel seems to do much less random disconnects, but this has to be proven in longer sessions before i can tell this for sure.
All in all, the first impression is pretty good and it works without any problems in Linux, at least on distributions that ship a somewhat recent kernel.

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