Vodafone Mobile Broadband USB Modem 7.2 review

Attempting to stay one step ahead of the data pack, Vodafone has launched a new HSDPA-enabled USB modem that promises even faster speeds, but will it connect you quickly? We go surfing to find out.

The Vodafone Mobile Broadband USB Modem 7.2 is a small white device the size of a pebble that plugs into any computer with a USB 2.0 socket.

The 7.2 in the title stands for the amount of Mbps you can get down the line and this makes, where possible reception permiting, for a lighting fast connection speed.

Vodafone claims that the potential increase in speed will give you 14 times faster download speeds and 22 times faster upload speeds than standard 3G.

New to the unit over previous designs is a glowing red light around the edge that "breathes" when you're connected. Additionally there is a colour coded light that flashes according to your status. Green for GPRS, Blue for 3G, light Blue for HSDPA. The flashing turns to solid colour once you are connected.

Either way the colour coding is a nice touch and with no display gives you feedback as to what is happening rather than just screaming at it because you can't get a connection. At least this way you know what you are supposed to get and you've just got to remember what colour is for what.

Once connected and the software is installed, it works with Windows, Mac and even Linux, the idea is that you then have the Internet in your bag where ever you are as long as you can get mobile phone coverage.

Depending on your operating system the software you get access to will vary. PC users will get a dashboard of information, complete with the ability to send SMS text messages from the card, while Mac users get connection to the Internet and that's about it.

In fact if you are using MacOSX10.5 (Leopard) you don't even have to load the software each time. Either way the software on the surface doesn't appear to be any different from the company's previous broadband software offering.

Clearly the better the reception, the better the connection speeds and just as you do with mobile phone reception, we experienced a mix of connection speeds around the country and in London.

However the great thing with this is we found, is that you'll definitely get GPRS.

Verdict

Being a MacBook Pro and Asus Eee user we love the fact that it's connectible via USB rather than a PC card slot. The connection software is easy, and the device small enough to fit in your pocket or your bag.

It's a small aside, but being the mobile worker we are, we also like that the USB cable fits our Canon digital camera and our BlackBerry meaning it can be used with other devices.

As someone that has to file stories the moment they happen from a conference, the previous incarnation has been invaluable, the additional speed will make this a whole lot quicker. The lights are a great addition, but really only that.

If you are looking for internet on the go without the hassle of paying for Wi-Fi hotspots this is, without a doubt the way to do it.

The device is £49 on 18-month contract and £99 on 12-month contracts with monthly costs from £25 a month.

Those who don't want to commit to a long-term agreement with Vodafone can purchase the device on standalone basis for £170, and then pay £8.50 a day to use it.

Top marks.