So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Vodafone Mobile Connect Internet USB Stick
Versatile Internet key that doubles as USB flash drive
- Design, doubles as a flash memory drive, plug and play, Mac OS support, simple software
- No antenna for reception boost
Vodafone’s USB Internet Stick is a versatile solution for mobile broadband; the fact that it also doubles as a USB flash drive with expandable memory is a nice touch.
Price$ 249.00 (AUD)
Vodafone has launched a mobile broadband 'Internet Stick' that is stylish and easy to use. The Mobile Connect Internet USB Stick is the successor of the Mobile Connect HSDPA USB Modem. It boasts a slim profile and offers plug and play capabilities on both Windows and Mac machines.
The USB Internet Stick is rated at a theoretical maximum speed of 7.2 megabits per second over Vodafone’s HSDPA network. The network is currently being upgraded and is set to reach over 95 per cent of the Australian population by Christmas 2008. As with all mobile Internet devices, keep in mind that the actual speed achieved will depend on a number of factors such as device capabilities, your location and equipment, as well as network usage at the time.
The Vodafone service supports connectivity in HSDPA, 3G and GPRS coverage areas. If the HSDPA signal strength isn't strong enough, the service falls back to standard 3G. If no HSDPA or 3G signal can be received, then the modem will revert to GPRS (60 kilobits per second maximum).
Aside from its compact size, one of its main appeals is the fact that the software required to use the service is installed on the USB device itself. This means much more flexibility in terms of using the unit on multiple computers. It connects via USB, so it offers a flexible alternative for users of desktop PCs and notebooks. Conveniently, the Internet Stick also doubles as a USB flash drive — there is a microSD card slot included that can house cards of up to 4GB in size, although no card is included in the package.
During testing the Internet Stick performed well in our offices (in St Leonards, Sydney), receiving a standard HSDPA signal. We performed a number of tests, ranging from sending and receiving small amounts of data, like e-mails and basic Web browsing, to using streaming services, and finally to basic downloading of files (ranging from 1MB to 60MB in size). Speeds tended to vary on a day-to-day basis.
The Internet Stick has no problem with basic Web browsing, loading pages swiftly. If you are in an HSDPA area, streaming media from sites like YouTube is excellent. While downloading files in a standard HSDPA coverage area we were able to achieve speeds of up to 200 kilobytes per second, but the speed generally fluctuated between 130KBps and 170KBps.
The Vodafone Mobile Connect Lite software included on the Internet Stick scores points for ease of use. It is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS and takes less than a couple of minutes to install. Using this program you can manage connections, view your approximate monthly usage and manage SMS messages. When connected, you can quickly view information on the current session in the main window, including duration of connection, the volume of data sent and received, and the current signal strength.
Vodafone’s mobile broadband plans for the Internet Stick start at $29.95 per month for 1GB of data. $49.95 per month gives you a reasonable 5GB of data, while both plans charge an additional 10 cents per megabyte for additional use. On top of this, the Stick has a monthly device repayment of $5 per month on the $29.95 plan.
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