04-13-2011 05:14 PM
I've been looking into buying a laptop with an internal WWAN card built in. I'm interested in using either Verizon's current 4G LTE network or AT&T's future network once they've started rolling it out later this year.
Most of the 3G WWAN cards that I've seen have 2 antenna connections. The only WWAN card that I've found that currently implements 4G LTE is the MC7750 aircard from Sierra Wireless (see http://www.sierrawireless.com/en/productsandservices/AirPrime/Wireless_Modules/High-speed/MC7750.asp... ).
These newer 4G LTE cards require 3 antennas! You can see that both from the downloadable specs on that webpage, and in the picture of the WWAN card. The 3 antenna connection points are visible on the top left of the MC7750 card.
I know that some of the Wi-Fi WLAN cards currently have 3 antennas, so an ideal machine would have a total of 6 (3 WWAN, 3 WLAN) plus perhaps a separate Bluetooth antenna too.
Do any Lenovo “Broadband upgradable” laptops currently have this many antennas?
04-13-2011 11:38 PM
I haven't seen any laptops with LTE mini-PCIe cards in them yet. I would imagine that for now you would have to obtain the appropriate cable and manually route it through the chassis and behind the LCD.
04-14-2011 02:26 AM - edited 04-14-2011 10:44 AM
I haven’t seen any LTE PCIe laptops yet either, but they are coming soon for sure. Verizon's news feed indicates that they've partnered with Compaq and HP to release specific laptop models ( http://news.vzw.com/news/2011/01/pr2011-01-06n.html ). I didn't see any mention of a Lenovo device, but I'm hoping they're in the works too since my preference would be to stick with Lenovo.
I'll probably hold off on getting a new x220 until I can be sure that it will either come with one of these cards, or until I am sure that they come with the required antennas to upgrade later. I had a look at some videos on retrofitting antennas into the back of the LCD and I'd hate to risk opening it up that way unless I was really sure that I could put it back together again.
Since the x220's haven't been released yet, does anyone have one of the newer t420's that they wouldn't mind checking out the WWAN card on. I suspect if the t420 devices are ready then the x220's probably will be as well.
04-14-2011 07:26 AM
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04-15-2011 02:28 AM
One possibility might be to use an external USB 4G adapter. I have seen a few in use at work and they seem to work well.
04-17-2011 04:45 PM
An external device would be one possibility that might be a good solution for many people. On the plus side you can then transfer it to different devices. For me though, I've never been a fan of either the USB or the ExpressCard options that stick out. It's just a little loss in convenience, but I always felt that I had to be just a little more careful to not bump the connection the wrong way when it was sitting on my lap. Also, on the convertible tablet x220t models it might get in the way a bit if you wanted to position the device in different orientations.
I just found the following news release on Sierra Wireless:
It seems to imply that the t420 series laptops are going to be using the 3G only WWAN cards. Bummer.
Does anyone know if Lenovo still whitelists/blacklists pci-e cards in the BIOS? I read some contradictory posts in another thread.
04-18-2011 12:23 AM
It just occurred to me that a USB extension cable with a base (like some USB Wi-Fi adapters ship with) might be a good solution, since it would allow a 4G USB adapter to be oriented in a more optimal location.
04-18-2011 02:23 AM
09-07-2011 12:36 AM
I called Sierra Wireless and they informed me that the third antenna on the MC7750 is strictly going to be used for the GPS circuitry. On previous devices like the MC8355, the GPS circuit was shared with the 2nd diversity antenna. That wasn't a problem since the diversity antenna was used strictly for improving reception and not required for main operation. I was told that because new devices had to support such a wide range of frequencies that they wanted to put the GPS on an antenna that would specialize in picking up GPS frequencies.
I've called Lenovo several times, and have gotten varying answers on what will be supported going forward in terms of LTE. My best guess, after aggregating all the conflicting statements, is that all the currently shipping laptops will be upgradable to LTE when it gets released in October. The information gets a bit hazier when you ask if laptops shipped before the October rollout will be upgradable or not. My best guess is yes, they will, but who knows..
For those of you considering getting the 3x3 LCD, the third antenna is currently only ever connect to the WLAN card. The WWAN card never gets a 3rd antenna. Unfortunately, the antenna size is optimized based on its receive/transmit frequencies, and the optimal antennas sizes makes them take up most of the room at the top of the LCD monitor. That's why Lenovo needed to remove the camera on 3x3 antenna models.
With the antenna size issues, I'm not quite sure what Lenovo will do once the MC7750 devices start getting shipped. Will they reconfigure their devices to place an extra GPS antenna on the side of the LCD instead of just using the real estate at the top of the LCD? Will they have an option to use/substitute the 3rd WLAN antenna as a GPS antenna? Will they simply not support the built-in GPS features of the device? Nobody at Lenovo that I talked with seems to know. I'm sure someone there knows, but that person doesn't work in the call center.
21 Mbps on HSPA is a myth. Maybe that's what the technical standard allows for when operating in a lab faraday cage, but not in the real world. People get 1-3 Mbps, if that. Some of the new reports on Verizon wireless are saying 15 Mbps. That would allow for much better video and remote desktop experience. The more important considerations are reliability and latency. Verizon is getting about 40ms pings vs maybe 100ms on HSPA. Best of all the all 700 MHz frequencies used by Version are fantastically reliable because they penetrate buildings so well. That's why they were the first to get used up early in the century when TV hit the spotlight. I'm going to enjoy my sweet, sweet LTE service very much once it finally comes to Lenovo. Of course it will cost two arms and a leg, but that will be small price to pay for being always switched on, and to get a litlte more use out of my 1 hour bus commute each day.
For those of you who have non-Lenovo systems, you can already buy the MC7750 part for your laptop. Unfortunately Lenovo cripples its machines and only allows you to use Lenovo branded WWAN cards. Shame on you Lenovo for that! I hope this ridiculous practice stops someday, since your machines are otherwise very nice.