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6/17/2010
03:18 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Clearwire Intros New WiMax 4G Modems

Clearwire today introduced three new WiMax-based 4G modems, including its first laptop dongle that's compatible with Apple computers.

Clearwire and Sprint are plowing forward with the build out of their joint WiMax network. Both companies already have several different devices that can be used to access both the WiMax 4G and Sprint's EVDO 3G network. Today, they added to the pile of 4G modems with a handful of new goodies.

There are three new products. The first is the Clear Spot 4G. The Clear Spot 4G is a WiMax-only personal mobile hotspot. It lets users share Internet access anywhere there is 4G WiMax coverage with up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices. The Clear Spot 4G is being made by InfoMark. It can be purchased outright for $100, or leased for $5 per month.

The second device is the Clear Spot 4G+. This device can access both the WiMax 4G network and the EVDO 3G network. The Clear Spot 4G+ will switch between 4G and 3G depending on what coverage is available. It will let users share Internet with up to five Wi-Fi devices. The Clear Spot 4G+ is being made by Sierra Wireless. It costs $225 if you want to buy it outright, or it can be leased for $6 per month.

Last, we have the Clear 4G+ Mobile USB Series S. This awkwardly named device is a 4G/3G laptop dongle that is the first to support Macs. Same as the Clear Spot 4G+, the Clear 4G+ Mobile USB Series S will use WiMax when available and EVDO 3G when it's not. The Clear 4G+ Mobile USB Series S is compatible with MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops using Mac OS X Versions 10.5.x and 10.6.x. (It also supports most versions of Microsoft Windows.) It is also being made by Sierra Wireless. It costs $115 to buy, or $6 per month to rent.

All three devices have pros and cons, so if you're looking for some WiMax 4G action, be sure to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each. The Clear Spot 4G, for example, can only connect to WiMax 4G and not 3G. That means if you aren't covered by WiMax, it won't work. The Clear Spot 4G+ adds support for 3G, too, but costs a lot more to buy/lease. The USB modem will only let one device connect to the Internet, and can't share with others.

The devices can be pre-ordered starting today, but won't be available in retail stores until July.

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