Traditionally, choosing a laptop has been about compromise.
Vodafone Mega Modem
Vodafone Mega Modem review: Vodafone's latest mobile broadband USB stick provides access to the telco's new 850MHz network
- Theoretical maximum speeds of 21.6Mbps on 850MHz network, microSD card slot, antenna port, ease of use and setup
- Chunky size, 850MHz network still being built
Vodafone's Mega Modem promises faster speeds than regular USB modems, but the full advantages of the 850MHz network won't be felt until it is finished being built.
Price$ 99.00 (AUD)
Vodafone's Mega Modem USB stick (a fancy name for the K4505 mobile broadband modem) is one of the first devices to access Vodafone's new 850MHz 3G network. The new Vodafone network is claimed to provide better indoor coverage, stronger signal and faster data speeds.
Looking for a prepaid mobile broadband solution? Read our reviews of the best prepaid mobile broadband modems on the market.
As far as USB modems go, the Vodafone Mega Modem is a fairly standard affair, though it is a little chunkier than most standard USB sticks. The Mega Modem has a lightweight, glossy white plastic shell, an external antenna connection, a slide-out USB connector, and a microSD card slot that allows it to double as a portable flash drive. Unfortunately, the Vodafone Mega Modem's chunky shape means it prevented access to the second USB port on our 13in MacBook Pro. On larger notebooks this shouldn't be a problem, and it is more of a fault on Apple's part than Huawei's, the manufacturer of the Mega Modem. The Mega Modem also lacks a rotating USB connector, which would have reduced the risk of bumping it when connected to your notebook.
The Vodafone Mega Modem offers plug-and-play operation for Windows and Mac computers and supports download speeds of up to 21.6 megabits per second (Mbps), making it faster than both the K3765 mobile broadband USB stick and the K3571-Z mobile broadband USB stick.
The software required to use the Vodafone Mega Modem is stored on the device itself. The Mobile Broadband Lite program is easy to install and allows you to quickly access your prepaid account details and see sent and received data. It also provides direct links to Vodafone's Web site, where you can manage your account and check your current balance.
The Vodafone Mega Modem has a maximum download speed of 21.6Mbps and a maximum upload speed of 5.7Mbps. Vodafone claims the Mega Modem will provide a "practical peak rate" of 16.2Mbps on the HSPA+ network, but as with all mobile broadband devices the actual speed achieved will depend on a number of factors such as your location and equipment, network usage and coverage, and network congestion at the time.
Using our Broadband Speed Test, the Vodafone Mega Modem managed to achieve download speeds of up to 4Mbps, but regularly downloaded at around 2Mbps. Upload speeds were stable at around 1Mbps, but did occasionally rise over 1.5Mbps.
Vodafone sells the Mega Modem for $99 on month-to-month plans (it is not available on prepaid) but is free on all 12- and 24-month plans above $29/month. As a special introductory offer, Vodafone will sell the Mega Modem for $49 until 15 April.
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