The complete guide to WiMAX

Still, WiMAX could become a de facto standard for wireless access form a notebook, and if that's true, it could kill two birds with one stone and make both WiFi and mobile broadband WWAN connections less compelling.

Five cool pieces of WiMAX kit

Motorola USBW 100
(Price tbc)
Motorola's first WiMAX product for laptop users is a USB adapter that looks like a WWAN adapter that connects to a mobile broadband signal. The chip inside is decidedly different: there are actually three versions of the adapter: one for 2.3GHz networks, one for 2.5GHz and one for 3.5GHz. This flexibility of networks can be confusing, so if WiMAX becomes a viable option for you, make sure you check with the provider about which card is fully supported. The USBw 100 is a plug-and-play device, in the sense you can use it on your laptop after installing the drivers.

Lenovo 301
(Price tbc)
Announced in September, this is the successor to the X300. This light-as-a-feather thin laptop was the main competition for the MacBook Air in 2008, but has since become a popular business machine and one that comes with all the latest connection options, including 802.11n Wi-Fi, mobile broadband, and – in a version that will likely debut in mid-2009, built-in WiMAX (according to press releases for the X301). The advantage is that you won't need a USB dongle or ExpressCard adapter and can switch effortlessly between Wi-Fi, mobile broadband, and WIMAX, just by selecting an option on screen.

Zyxel XOHM Modem MAX-206M2
This non-mobile modem is designed for the home user where you can connect it directly to a desktop computer or to a router (in the same way you connect your router to a DSL modem today). For mobile users, it's an attractive option because you can connect to the internet in your home from a router and get mobile. Then when you leave home, if you have a USB modem or a laptop such as the Lenovo X301, you can keep using the internet.

XOHM ExpressCard
This Sprint ExpressCard works with the XOHM network and is the primary device that WiMAX users will want to access a high-speed WiMAX connection. Like a mobile broadband adapter such as the Sprint Sierra Wireless EX720 card, the XOHM ExpressCard works with newer laptops using the smaller ExpressCard port. There's also a USB version of this adapter. The antenna on this card folds up for the best signal access.

Nokia N810 Internet Tablet WiMAX Edition
(Approx £440)
Nokia plans to introduce a WiMAX-capable version of its N810 Internet Tablet, a device that is designed for surfing the internet, music streaming and video watching, but which is not actually a smartphone. Details are scarce at the moment, but the N810 is similar to the original N800 tablet, so it will have a pen-based interface for entering text and allow you to install third-party Symbian OS applications for gaming and productivity. This has been discontinued, but they are still available for sale.


First published in What Laptop, Issue 119

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John Brandon

John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.