Finally, there is an ExpressCard available for Sprint EVDO, the Merlin™ EX720. The one problem I have had with upgrading to my MacBook Pro was the loss of my Sprint EVDO service. Verizon offered an ExpressCard to its users months ago, while those of us on Sprint had to wait patiently. I really felt the pain last week while travelling. However, yesterday I got my hands on the Sprint EX720, though the Sprint Rep said they were not supposed to be released until next week. Anyway, here is what it took to get it to work. I’m putting this here to hopefully save time for less technically savvy people like myself. (This took a lot longer than I expected.)
The main problem I had was the need for a Windows machine running XP that had an ExpressCard slot. If you have one of those – you are set. If not, then like me you need to find one. My solution involved using Parallels and an old copy of Virtual PC 6 to get the job done without spending any money. Here are the steps:
1. Secure a Sprint Express Card Merlin™ EX720
2. Download the Sprint Drivers for Mac OSX (Select Mac OS) The EX720 will be the Novatel 720. Also download the PDF instructions. UPDATE: Apple drivers are now available.
3. Activate the EX720 using a Windows machine.
- Here is the rub, you need a Windows box with an ExpressCard slot to activate the EX720.
- First I went to CompUSA and tried to use a laptop – no joy, could not get Sprint Connection Manager to install on Vista and they had no XP laptops.
- Next choice would be to find a friend with a capable XP setup.
- Up until now I have resisted installing Parallels, but figured now was the time.
4. Download and install Parallels. (I used the free trial version.) Boot Camp should also work.
5. Install Windows XP.
- Yet another rub. Here was where I got lucky!
- I have an old copy of Virtual PC 6 with a full Windows XP Pro license.
- Using the instructions found here, I made a bootable XP install disk.
- Secret for VP6 owners, skip the Service Pack 2 part and use the instructions listed to create these files instead: win51ic.SP1 and win51ip.SP1. Read all the comments, the instructions are in there
- I then installed my trial of Parallels and used my new XP Pro boot install disk.
6. Install Sprint Connection Manager using your new XP/Parallels install.
7. Insert the EX720.
8. Select the EX720 from the Devices menu in Parallels; it will be listed under USB devices.
9. Run Sprint Connection Manager per the instructions.
10. Get the Account Name & Password from the Sprint Rep when you make the activation call. The Mac Drivers will ask for it.
11. Finish Activation and close Parallels.
12. Install Sprint Drivers
13. Follow the PDF instructions you downloaded when you got the Sprint Mac drivers.
I will say that the initial speeds seem slower than my old Merlin S620 card. I have a feeling that in the coming weeks when the real tech experts get their hands on these EX720 cards that many tweaks etc. will be coming. But it did connect and it does work. Now, hours later, I can get back to work…