3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1756

A simple and reasonably effective mobile broadband modem that suffers from erratic network performance

3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1756
  • 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1756
  • 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1756
  • 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1756
  • Expert Rating

    3.25 / 5

Pros

  • Plug and play, easy to set up and use, microSD card slot, decent speeds, can roam on Telstra's Next G network

Cons

  • Wide design can block other ports, speeds varied inexplicably

Bottom Line

3's Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1756 certainly offers impressive value, but performance is a mixed bag.

Would you buy this?

3 Mobile's latest Broadband Internet Key is the E1756, a straightforward device that’s easy to set up and use. Plug-and-play installation, a microSD card memory slot and access to Telstra's Next G network when roaming are some of the notable features of this mobile broadband modem.

Like all USB modems, the 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1756 is a very straightforward device. It's relatively thin, but it's wide enough to sometimes block access to other USB ports — we couldn't access the second USB port on our MacBook Pro with the E1756 plugged in, and it also hindered access to the eSATA/USB port on a Toshiba Satellite M500. A microSD slot is hidden nicely underneath the SIM card slot and is accessible via a slide-off plastic panel, while a status LED indicates whether the modem has a 2G, 3G or HSDPA connection.

The software required to use the mobile broadband service is installed on the USB device itself, so the E1756 is plug and play. It's easy to use and is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X. The My3 menu is a convenient way to manage your monthly usage, view invoices or change account details. You can quickly view information on the current session in the Statistics menu, including duration of connection, the volume of data sent and received, and the current signal strength.

The 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1756 delivers a theoretical maximum download speed of 7.2 megabits per second and upload speed of up to 2Mbps. The actual speed achieved will vary depending on a number of factors such as device capabilities, your location and equipment, as well as network usage at the time. Typical speeds should range from 600 kilobits per second (Kbps) to 1.5Mbps. Keep in mind that the E1756 is one of 3's "Mega 3G" modems, meaning it will roam onto Telstra's Next G network when out of a 3 coverage zone. This is charged at a rate of 50 cents per megabyte.

During testing, the 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1756 performed reasonably well in our North Sydney offices, receiving a standard HSDPA signal. While downloading files in a standard HSDPA coverage area we were able to achieve speeds of up to 190 kilobytes per second, although speed frequently fluctuated between 100KBps and 170KBps. Using PC World's own SpeedTest, the E1756 recorded an average download speed of 1.3Mbps. In our real world test, we managed to download a 93MB iTunes file in 10min 47sec, at an average transfer rate of around 134KBps. We did note that speeds often varied inexplicably — even when the software displayed a full HSDPA signal the download speed would sometimes drop below 80KBps.

3's mobile broadband plans for the Broadband Internet Jet E1756 start at $15 per month for 1GB of data and range up to $29 (3GB), $39 (6GB) and $49 (7GB) plans over 24 months. All plans charge an additional 10 cents per megabyte for any usage beyond your monthly quota. The E1756 is also available on prepaid — $149 with an included 12GB of data, or $79 without any data included.

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