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Novatel USB551L 4G USB Modem for Verizon Review

Posted: , by FAUguy

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Performance:

As is the case with all of Verizon’s USB modems, you must first install the CD that includes the device drivers and VZAccess Manager software. This is a pretty painless process and is completed in only a few minutes. Once done, you can attach the Novatel USB551L modem to the PC and load the VZAccess Manager program, which will connect to Verizon’s network. Since we are in Ft Lauderdale Florida, we were connected to 4G, but the device is still backwards compatible with 3G EVDO and 1x.

First off, we used our web browser with the Novatel USB551L modem and went to the SpeedTest.net site and ran three tests using servers in South FL, which gave us an average download speeds of 9.95 Mbps, but it had a wide range of upload speeds from 2.99 to 8.14 Mbps, and ping times from 79 to 156 ms. We then downloaded a 112MB file from the Nvida web site, which took 4 minutes 10 seconds, at a rate of 454KB/sec, and also uploaded it to our FTP server, which took a flat 5 minutes. The PhoneArea.com web site took 15 seconds to fully load, as did most other graphically intensive sites.

Novatel USB551L speed test - Novatel USB551L 4G USB Modem for Verizon Review
Novatel USB551L speed test - Novatel USB551L 4G USB Modem for Verizon Review
Novatel USB551L speed test - Novatel USB551L 4G USB Modem for Verizon Review

Novatel USB551L speed test


For comparison, we used the LG VL600 modem that we had on hand, connected it to the same computer, and ran the same tests using the SpeedTest.net site, which gave us download speeds averaging 10.95 Mbps, more reliable uploads of 5.10 to 6.84 Mbps, and ping times from 89 to 153 ms. We then downloaded the same 112MB file from the Nvidia site as before, but this time it was 40 seconds faster at 3 minutes 30 seconds total, at a rate of 558KB/sec, and when we uploaded it to our FTP server it took the same amount of time. When going the PhoneArena.com web site in the browser, it only took 12 seconds to load, with most other graphically intensive sites taking under 14 seconds.

LG VL600 speed test - Novatel USB551L 4G USB Modem for Verizon Review
LG VL600 speed test - Novatel USB551L 4G USB Modem for Verizon Review
LG VL600 speed test - Novatel USB551L 4G USB Modem for Verizon Review

LG VL600 speed test


LG VL600 112MB file download - Novatel USB551L 4G USB Modem for Verizon Review
Novatel USB551L 112MB file download - Novatel USB551L 4G USB Modem for Verizon Review

LG VL600 112MB file download

Novatel USB551L 112MB file download


Based on all of our results, the LG VL600 continually outperformed the Novatel USB551L. For starters, the SpeedTest.net site showed downloads about 1Mbps faster using the VL600, and uploads were solids and did not fluxuate like on the USB551L. The 112MB file that we downloaded from Nvidia was 40 seconds faster when using the VL600, and it also took 90 seconds less to upload it to our FTP server. Large web sites also took 2-3 seconds less to load when using the VL600.


Conclusion:

Since both the Novatel USB551L and LG VL600 modems work on Verizon’s 4G LTE network and carry the same $99.99 price with 2-year contract, we would suggest going with the LG VL600 based on the faster download and upload speeds that we got. The Novatel USB551L isn’t bad, but for some reason it isn’t as fast as the LG VL600 on the same tests that we did here. Regardless, we would still suggest that you before you purchase either one, that you take your laptop to a Verizon store and try both of them out while connected to your PC and see if there is any noticeable speed difference in your area – as 4G LTE speeds can vary based on area terrain.

Novatel USB551L 4G USB Modem for Verizon Video Review:



Pros

  • Small and easy to use
  • Handy extension cable and laptop clip

Cons

  • Not quite as fast as the LG VL600
PhoneArena rating:
7.5
User rating:
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1 Comments
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posted on 29 Dec 2011, 14:46

1. Myop4u (Posts: 1; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)


Novatel USB551L - The modem is utterly unreliable. Yesterday it took me one hour and ten minutes to write 3 short emails and make one online purchase of an item I had previously researched so it was supposed to be a very quick transaction – and the modem disconnected me while in the middle of making my payment. The connections varied between barely 2G and 3G and 4G and kept changing while I remained stationary. I am very, very close to giving up Verizon for my internet connection as this is extremely aggravating. I can’t run my small business with a modem that disconnects itself at will and with no warning every few minutes, sometimes once a minute! from the internet.

What if I want to conduct a telecall or webinar? Do I run the risk of losing my class every couple of minutes?

I did call and complain when I first noticed that the modem would disconnect itself frequently. I was told by Verizon Tech Support that this was normal as it is a 4G modem. For one thing, when it thinks you aren’t doing anything (like when you write a longer email) it disconnects itself. (And then it can take 10 minutes or more, including having to reboot my laptop several times before I can get my connection back.) Excuse me? Then why on earth would anybody want this?

Really, Verizon, this is a ‘get your act together’ moment!

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