A couple of years ago 3G was going to be the be-all-and-end-all to our communication world. However times changed, Wi-Fi was introduced and all of a sudden 3G didn't look so attractive.
Of course this was too late for the operators who have spent billions building an infrastructure. So its come to the point where phone operators rather than merely getting us to sign up because we have nothing better to do, have to make applications and therefore reasons for us to go with the new package. Three's option has been to sell video calls via the phone. Vodafone however see the use of 3G as an application for business.
Taking the mobile connect card, Vodafone has added 3G functionality to it, offering the faster connection speed from the comfort of your laptop when on the move. One quick install of the accompanying software and you're ready to go. Everything is controlled from one panel (just as before) and you are offered SMS, email, Web and access to Vodafone's instant messenger program.
The connect button sends you internet-bound. No settings have to be entered by the user since the card does it all for you and it's nice to know that you don't have to have worry about access codes or the local dialling numbers.
The SMS control panel allows you to access your text messages when your card is in the machine and from here you have control over sending and receiving text messages and general contact administration. Importing your SIM card's address book is simple enough and likewise you can do the same with your contacts on your machine as long as they are in .txt. or .csv format. Like before you can't get MMS messages, even from the Vodafone network itself and this perhaps shows that Vodafone are aiming this product at the business user rather than the leisure picture buff.
The key strength here is the 3G aspect and speeds obtainable are considerably faster than standard GPRS. We managed to get the maximum kbps speed of 386kbps out of the card with no problem and that meant that downloading files or just pages was as fast as most Wi-Fi connections. Unlike Wi-Fi connections however you are charged on data use and this is something that could easily rack up without realising it. Vodafone offers four different price plans according to your requirements and if you plan to send and receive large attachments then you'll soon find the whole experience expensive. For the basic package Vodafone will charge £12 for 5mb per month and and additional fee of £2.35 per megabyte there after. If you're a heavy user the monthly bill will rocket to £100 but then you do get 500Mb for your money.
The convenience of having a Wi-Fi speed card in your laptop without having to look for a Wi-Fi hotspot will appeal to some, but the downside here is the price and it's clear Vodafone are having to reap back some of the billions they have already spent on the 3G licence. Good but as the first in the series, a it's inescapably a little too expensive for our liking.