Vodafone – Mobile Connect USB Modem review

ingenious GPRS connection for your laptop
Photo of Vodafone – Mobile Connect USB Modem
from £49 + VAT for modem (£45 + VAT per month) to £99 + VAT (£25 + VAT per month) depending on tariff

If you regularly use a laptop for computing away from base, you may miss your broadband Internet connection.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though, and all the main network operators have PC Cards which incorporate a SIM and which can be used for fast data access either over the 3G network or, if your provider is either Vodafone or T-Mobile, using HSDPA. HSDPA is an enhancement to the 3G service which currently offers theoretical data speeds of up to 1.8MBps – so called ‘mobile broadband’.

PC data cards are fine if your laptop has a PC Card, but are no earthly use if it doesn’t. Which is where the Vodafone Mobile Connect USB Modem comes in. It is smaller than a PC Card based alternative, and every laptop we’ve ever seen, plus desktop PCs, have USB ports.

If you are using a Windows XP system, the Vodafone Mobile Connect USB Modem is simple plug and play. We tested it on a laptop running Windows XP Professional. We plugged it in, the drivers and Mobile Connect software required installed automatically, the software ran, told us that Vodafone’s 3G network was available, and we hit the ‘connect’ button. It was literally that easy.

If you are a Mac user you’ll have to install the drivers that are supplied on a CD with the Vodafone Mobile Connect USB Modem, but thereafter using it should be a simple plug and play activity.

Once the installation has been completed, you can make a software setting which gets the modem to connect to the network whenever it is plugged in. And it does just that.

The modem doesn’t connect to your PC directly. It comes with two USB cables: a short one around 20cm long and a longer one around 90cm long which has two USB connectors at the computer end. You can use this latter cable if your laptop can’t power the modem from a single USB connection, and also if your USB ports are on the back of your laptop and the short cable doesn’t carry the modem into a position where you can see its flashing light.

The light indicates that you have a connection, and its type: green for GPRS connections, blue for 3G. Other than the light the Vodafone Mobile Connect USB Modem is stylish white in colour. It is small too, at just 42mm wide, 88mm tall and 15mm thick. Curved at the edges and with a discrete tray for your SIM it is not much bigger than a USB memory stick.

There are various tariffs for the Vodafone Mobile Connect USB Modem. An unlimited data plan costs £45 per month plus £49 for the modem, while with a 250MB usage cap (in the UK only) the modem costs £99 and you pay £25 per month. These prices exclude VAT, and full tariff information is at the Vodafone Web site.

Company: Vodafone

Contact: 08700 700 191


Verdict
The Vodafone Mobile Connect USB Modem is an amazing piece of kit. It is truly plug and play for Windows users, with a simple driver installation required for Mac users. Because of its use of USB you can even use it on a home PC if your broadband connection goes down.