MacBook Air connected via EVDO: 1; need for CD: 0
By quickly downloading some driver software over an open Wi-Fi network, I was able to get the super-thin Mac connected to the Internet via EVDO.
SAN FRANCISCO--One of the cool things about going on road trips for CNET News.com, as I've done in both 2006 and 2007, is that I get to test out a bunch of cool tech.
For the trip I'll be embarking on next month, that is very much the case, and one of the gadgets I've been looking to get going is the USB727 EVDO modem Verizon lent me for the trip.
The only problem has been that until today, I had been unable to get the modem to work properly. I had been told it was essentially plug and play on Macs, like the USB720 modem I bought myself, but that wasn't proving to be true.
I got back in touch with Verizon, hoping it was a simple fix, and after waiting a few days for the right tech person to get ahold of the question, I was finally told that the USB727, unlike the USB720, doesn't natively support Macs.
This struck me as a problem, since the computer I'm going to be using on the trip is a MacBook Air that Apple has lent me.
So I was sitting in my car here in San Francisco, waiting for the event to start, trying to figure out what to do. I had my personal MacBook Pro connected to the Internet with the USB720, and in came an e-mail from Verizon suggesting that to get the USB727 running on the MacBook Air, I needed to download some driver software.
How to do it, I thought. Well, it turned out there is an open Wi-Fi network where I'm sitting, so I quickly logged the MacBook Air on to that and, a few fits and starts later, downloaded the driver software.
Then, shutting down the Wi-Fi, I ran the activation software for the USB727. At first it failed, and I was just about to send a message back to Verizon complaining that they still didn't have it right when I decided to make one more try. And suddenly, voila! The MacBook Air was on the Internet.
So here I am, still sitting in the car, pounding out this blog entry on the MacBook Air using the USB727 modem.
And the point, I guess, is that despite worrying that I was going to have to wait until I got home to connect an external Superdrive to the MacBook Air and try to load the software off the CD Verizon sent me with the modem, I didn't end up having to do so at all.
That proves to me, for the moment at least, that Apple's claims that the MacBook Air can be used without the need for an internal optical drive are valid.
On June 10, Geek Gestalt hits the highways for Road Trip 2008. I'll start in Orlando, Fla., and visit many of the South's most interesting destinations. Stay tuned, and be sure to keep up, both now and during the trip, with what I'm doing on Twitter.