Lightning Review: Sierra Wireless 597 Slim EVDO Card

The Gadget: Sierra Wireless' Compass 597 offers the same 3G mobile broadband as its 595u counterpart, but in a much smaller package.

Price: $50 (w/ two-year activation and current Sprint web special — $250 normally)

The Verdict: Like other cards in the Sierra Wireless line, the 597 has a microSD reader, GPS, and 3G data speeds. But the two things worth focusing on are the size and software package. It's about half the size (in length and thickness) than the Sierra 595u, making it easy to carry around and set up. It doesn't fold up like the 595u, but it's unobtrusive enough that it doesn't really matter. It also has a soft orange glow coming from a light at the top, which could either be nice or annoying depending on preference.

The Sprint software works on Mac and PC, and is really worth using on the go. It allows you to tap into the GPS function to display current position, search for streets and locations or display the rate at which your moving. And it shows reception strength in decibels.

Speaking of reception, the 597 antenna is as good as any of the other Sierra products, though we haven't been able to compare reception to the similar Novatel U727 card. But all in all, The Compass 597 is a solid mobile broadband choice. [Sprint]