Novatel Expresscard to USB or PCMCIA Card Adapter


New member
HoFo Member
Jul 19, 2007
iPhone 5
Has anyone used the Novatel Expresscard to USB or Expresscard to PCMCIA card adapter? Novatel's website lists them as driverless, but was curious how well it really works with Sprint Aircards. I did a search of the forums, but didn't find anyone who had specifically talked about using one, or performance. I know that there are USB aircards, but wanted to see how well these worked, because I would prefer an internal card for my Macbook, with the flexibility to use it with a desktop, or an older PCMCIA Card laptop. Do they work seamlessly with the Connection Software (or Apple's built in support)?
I use a Generic Expresscard to PCMCIA adapter I bought off ebay for about $35 shipped with my Merlin EX720. It works flawlessly with the Sprint Mobile Broadband (Novatel Wireless) Connection manager when I use it in my laptops with PC card slots.

Looks like the prices have dropped since I bought mine back in January.

Express card adapter to PCMCIA listings



  • 100% Brand New!
  • The PCMCIA adapter to Express Card enables you to use Express Cards 34mm.
  • Just insert the adapter into your standard PCMCIA slot and upgrade your notebook with the latest Express Card standard.
  • Thus you can expand your notebook by additional ports, e.g. broadband wireless modems (such as CDMA, EV-DO, GPRS, etc.), flash memory, flash card adapters, security, legacy I/O (PS2, serial, parallel), optical disk drives, GPS receivers, and more.

  • For Express Card 34mm with USB controller
  • CardBus 32-Bit
  • Hot Plug, Hot Swap
  • Data transfer rate up to 480 Mbps
  • For Windows 2000/ XP/ Vista, Mac0 OS 10.4 or above and Linux

In regards to the Expresscard to USB adapters, I haven't tried any yet, but there are many generic ones that are under $10 shipped that you may want to look at.

Express card adapter to USB listings

Key Features

  • Compliant with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 standard.
  • Compatible with all USB 2.0-MODE ExpressCards including many WLAN, WiMax, 3G (HSDPA and CDMA) and memory, e.g. Novatel Wireless Merlin ExpressCards (XU870, EX720, V740), storage media ExpressCards
  • Allows USB base ExpressCard/34 or Express Card/54 module working via USB port of desktop or laptop !
  • Up to USB High Speed 480Mbps (Megabits) interface access to host systems with USB 2.0
  • Compact and portable design with low power consumption!
  • Compatible with Mac and PC laptops.
  • Easy Installation, RoHS compliance, CE Approved
  • Note: NOT COMPATIBLE with any PCIe based ExpressCards - examples include SATA, FireWire, Gigabit Ethernet, etc.
  • Note: ExpressCard NOT included for sale in this listing.
  • All Brand New!


  • Model Name: ExpressCard ™/34 and /54 to USB Adapter
  • Interface: USB 2.0
  • Dimension: 45.9 mm x 58.2 mm x 13.4 mm
  • Transfer Rates: High Speed 480Mbps (Megabits)
  • Power Requirement: : 100mA (max.)
  • Operation Voltage: +5.0V (+/-5% direct from USB)
  • System Environment: Operating Temperature: 0 degree ~50 degrees Operating Humidity: 20% ~ 85%RH non-condensing
  • System Requirements: Windows ME/2000/XP/Server 2003/The Vista or later Mac OS 8.6 or later or Mac OS X
I would be weary of the cheap/no-name adaptors such as those on Ebay... I have had too many devices blown out by non-OEM adaptors and power supplies. If I need something non-OEM, I try to find the highest quality possible... in this case I'd check out Duel Systems
They have exactly what you want and it's high quality stuff... I was even a beta tester for their Duel Adaptor PCMCIA-to-ExpressCard adaptor (which worked flawless).

Great info, much appreciated!
I haven't used one of those mobile routers, but I have done some research on some other forums last year and there are mixed results concerning the use of expresscard to PC card adapters in the various mobile routers out. Last time I looked back in December, there wasn't any working solutions. It seems it may have changed this year though.

On the link you provided there were some PDF documents in the "More Information" block on the bottom right. On the document for "Supported Cards" it says it can. Below is what is on the Supported Cards document.

Wireless-G Router for Mobile Broadband

Firmware Version
Firmware File Name
Firmware Release Date
January 31, 2008

1. Express (with adaptor)
a. Sierra Wireless AC597E
b. Option Express EX720
a. Novatel Wireless S620
b. Novatel Wireless S720
c. Pantech PX500
d. Sierra Wireless AC580
e. Sierra Wireless AC595
f. UTStarcom PC5740

Data cards must be obtained from an authorized Sprint Nextel dealer.
Service plan is required.
Found this on another site that talks about it and sells them. Note the * asterisks.

3G EVDO/HSPA Router Information
Linksys WRT54G3G-ST 3G EVDO Router

Compatible Cards

S620, AC580, PC5740, S720, AC595, PX-500, EX720*, 597E*
KPC650, PC5750

*requires firmware version 2.01.12 and pcmcia to expresscard adapter

last updated 02/15/2008 5:26 PM
This was the thread I looked at last time and it looks like they do have it working as well from the most recent posts.

Merlin EX720 + Broadband Card Adapter + WRT54G3G-ST Status

michael said:
Just tested a Sprint Novatel EX720 and Sierra AirCard 597E and they NOW WORK in the WRT54G3G-ST with the Novatel ExpressCard Adatper.

We will write more about it on tomorrow.

New features include:

1. New Data Card support. WRT54G3G-ST now supports the following new ex-
press data cards (with adaptor):
a. Sierra Wireless AC597E
b. Option Express EX720
2. Improve 3G uplink throughput. Update data card serial driver and modify
multi-buffer mechanism for uplink throughput. The EVDO uplink throughput
is no longer limited to approximately 300 kbps when the network is capable
for higher rate.
3. Update new daylight saving time for US and Canada. The start date for
light saving time is changed to start at second Sunday in March.
4. Add Modem backup. Enable modem backup feature as option. The 3G data
card can be the backup for the WAN connection. 3G IP can be connected
when the wired WAN connection is down.
You'll need to find out if the mobile router you have at work is new or have been updated with the newer firmware (mentioned above) to be able to use the Expresscard + PC Card Adapter.

In regards to which Expresscard to PCMCIA adapter to get, I say go ahead and get the Novatel ExpressCard to PCMCIA Adapter (XCA-3). I may end up getting one as the one I have looks like the older (XCA-2) version as it sticks out more than the XCA-3.

As for your earlier question, to use the Novatel card in a Mac, you'll need to install the files from the Install CD and run the Mac package file or download the "" from the Sprint website or the link below.

Quick Start Guide for Sprint Mobile Broadband Devices on Mac OS X Tiger

Quick Start Guide for Sprint Mobile Broadband Devices on Mac OS X Leopard download link
Thanks for the very detailed and informative information. I am vacillating between getting an expresscard (and one of the options listed), or updating my USB Ovation U720 for the newer, sleeker USB720 and just getting one of the D-Link or Kyocera routers that supports it... I like the versatility of the USB... but trying to weigh the pros and cons. The two Linksys mobile routers we have are the most current, received directly from Sprint. I played with it today with a PCMCIA to USB adapter to see if I could get it to recognize my Novatel U720, but no go...
thanks again, great info! Off to do more research,
I see your dilemma in trying to choose since you only really have one option to stick to with CDMA. I also have an unlimited data connect service with AT&T and I have both a Sierra Wireless AC875 PC card and a Sierra Wireless 875U USB modem that I can easily swap my SIM card in and out of to use as I want or need.

I upgraded from the S620 Rev 0 card to the EX720 Rev A card in January since they upgraded the network here. Got the EX720 used on ebay since I've only had the service since February of 2007 and would have ended up having to pay full retail on a new EX720 (or S720) from Sprint.