John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

USB Data sticks Sierra Shockwave 308 review

I’ve looked at USB data sticks for a while now and was curious how they work so I bought one of these on Amazon. It was suppose to be unlocked but it wasn’t. Unlocking these is similar to unlocking a cell phone but there seems to be less providers of the unlock codes. In the end I used DC Unlocker to do it. DC Unlocker work a little differently, and frankly don’t explain how they work very well. I found it confusing. You buy what they call credits. The amount it costs depends on the model. They send you a user ID and password. This one ended up costing 10 credits or 10 EUR. They provide you with a Windows program that you run with the USB Data stick plugged in and no SIM card present. You tell it the make of the stick and it interrogates it. If it can unlock it they will tell you the model IMEI etc. The program then goes back to their web site (so you need an internet connection other than the USB stick) logs on with the user ID and password they sent you and checks your credit count. If you have enough credits it unlocks your stick. It is suppose to also be able to unlock the sticks ability to do voice but this didn’t work for me, and frankly I have no idea how this would work any way.

Alternatively as with a phone if you put a SIM from a company other than what the unit is locked to the program (discussed below) will pop and ask for what this one called a PIN (an unlock code). On phones you buy this based on the IMEI of the device. You can get the IMEI from the program in the about area as long as you have no SIM installed in the device.

When you buy one of these be sure and check (just like with any cell phone) to insure it supports the network frequencies of your provider.

All of these sticks need a program to run on the PC. So if your going to use something other than Windows with this data stick (such as Android, Linux etc) you are going to need to make sure it supports it. This one automatically installed the program when it was plugged into USB. This program allows you to configure the APNs for your network (you will need to manually add your for your SIM). For this device it was called Mobile profiles. I found it did a good job of handling different SIMs and associating the Mobile profile with that SIM. Until you properly enter the APN it will not be able to get a data connection and gives an unhelpful error message.
It actually had me wondering if my account allowed it to be used on a data stick. From what I can tell (and I admit to guessing) any account with a data plan can be used in a USB stick. I tried a couple and they all worked. I also believe (although I am not sure) that data consumed via a USB stick is considered data just like on a phone. I do not believe it to be considered like tethering which some providers charge extra for. But again, I don’t know this for sure.



Once the APN is setup you are ready to press connect:

And that’s about it. Your done. You now have a data connection on the Go!

By the way this particular stick also has a micro SD slot and can be used just like a uSD card reader. The slot is so recessed I found it hard to insert a card and the idea of having to unlpug the internet to remove or add the card doesn’t sound useful. Not that you have to but depending on how the stick is attached to your PC your doing a interesting twist to get at the card So a neat feature but useless IMHO. The speed of the uSD card was the same as any reader so it worked just fine.

There’s also a connector to add an external antenna if you need to for better reception.

I noticed the stick does get warm. As with anything that gets warm you know it’s consuming power. I found the stick had a noticeable effect on the battery life of my Atom powered tablet. Far more than running WIFI, but that is consistent with a radio on phone so I guess that isn’t a huge surprise.


May 27, 2013 - Posted by | Electronic gadget reviews

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