View Full Version : Voda 3G card - Giving it a go
25th October 2005, 03:57 PM
After ages of toying with the idea, I've decided to give the Vodafone 3G datacard a whirl. At £45/month ex. VAT for 'unlimited' transfer it's really not too much. The idea is it'll save my phone battery and bring down my bills!
I'll be buying it at my Vodafone store. Anyone got any tips/advice or know of any freebies that it'd be reasonable to ask for? I'm a Voda-Store-Virgin!
Any tips/advice on using the card in general?
26th October 2005, 12:44 AM
@Ben - my daughter has one of these in her company-issued laptop. Its great! She gets the full 384Kbps downstream which is indistinguishable to the eye from regular 512Kbps ADSL broadband. It will fall back to 2G/2.5G if the 3G signal is no good. She works and lives in the Eastbourne area and gets Voda's 3G everywhere she goes. A LED on the card tells you whether you are in 3G or 2G/2.5G coverage.
The only annoying thing is that [on her setup] you have to re-log in to the Internet software each 15 mins via a Username+Password dialogue box. This may be something her firm's IT Admin have configured up. I don't know why otherwise.
Try getting hold of a free arial for it - this plugs into a socket on the side of the card. Not that she has needed it, but it may be a nice to have if you are in a marginal 3G area. Oh and maybe a carry case for the card for when it is not used on the laptop.
Otherwise you're in for the treat of your life, albeit for £45 a month + the dreaded.
26th October 2005, 10:01 AM
Thanks for that!
The appearance of the card has changed slightly since it's original incarnation (the LED's are now on the long side of the card facing out from the laptop) and looks a bit more 'retro', so hopefully improvements have been made in the long period of time passed since this product was launched.
The reviews I've read have been excellent until I hit the user reviews regarding Vodafone's customer support. It would appear that, for a good while at least, support for this product was non-existent. I'll be making full use of my 14-day cancellation period for both extensive testing and a run-in with the CSR's to check things have improved. For the money I believe the experience should be flawless.
Arial should be included - but I'll definitely ask if it's not! It should also come in a plastic DVD-style carry case... I might ask if they've got anything smaller I can keep it in.
I'm quite excited! I do feel for Orange though... no more £60-£100 bills for them, touch wood! :D
26th October 2005, 10:09 AM
The latest Vodafone Mobile Connect Card comes complete with WLAN connectivity too. Vodafone have a prtnership with BT so you can access any of their 'Wi-Fi Hotspots' although pricing is separate from your 3G/GPRS included data bundle its charged by time connected rather than data volumes.
Might be worth checking out the hotspot locations where you are.
26th October 2005, 10:18 AM
I use the 3G card a lot with my work. Whilst on a good 3g signal the speeds are really quite impressive when on GPRS the speeds can be a little slow, but not so that's problematic. 3G/GPRS handover and back again is nearly always seemless, but have had a problem when sitting on a train going through Birmingham New Street station - this was a one off.
Hands0n's daughters issue with regards to re-logging on every 15 minutes, is almost definately down to her own IT department setup, I certainly don't get that issue.
The little arials come as standard, makes your laptop look a little odd, but to be honest I never really has a need for it.
26th October 2005, 11:11 AM
be careful Ben
Vodafone are still selling both the Old and new versions of this card and as 3GSU has pointed out the new card has Wlan. The newer card is normally cheaper
26th October 2005, 11:26 AM
I may of course be wrong, but I thought the new VF data cards didn't actually have WLAN features built into the card. Merely that the dashboard software,supplied with card, allows easy management over which bearer you choose to use. So if your laptop has its own WLAN capabilities and you are in a Hot Spot, you can use the dashboard software to control whether you choose to connect via WI-FI or 3G/GPRS.
As I said I could be wrong here. The new datacards are in fact Quad-band, but the extra band doesn't refer to WI-FI.
26th October 2005, 03:46 PM
Ok, got the card.
The new card, which I have, includes 1900 band support for USA - to use the Vodafone's WLAN setup you need integrated Wi-Fi or a separate card, the former I have anyway.
Extremely quick and easy purchase, competent staff, worked right out the box.
The new card, however, doesn't include an aerial, now sold separately.
Edit: On it right now, loving it!
27th October 2005, 10:47 AM
Well, after one day everything appears to be going well. I'm currently sat in 2G signal, but the latency over the Vodafone network in both 2G and 3G modes is much lower than I have experienced on other networks.
As far as speed tests from ADSLGuide.org.uk go, the Vodafone card appears to operate slower than using a 3G phone on Orange as a modem. Tests were coming out around the 270kbps mark, quite a bit short of the 300+ figures I was used to. However, this all drifts into irrelevance as the lower latency makes browsing the web far more enjoyable.
The card seems to be capable of acquiring signal OK, though the handovers I've experienced so far have sometimes been a little on the slow side. I've never had a connection drop, but waiting while the card decides what mode it's in can be a little annoying. This can be stopped by opting for GPRS or 3G specific modes, but it's no different from what is experienced when using a handset as a modem anyway.
Not having to worry about my phones battery life while I'm online is great. My laptop could easily give my mobile a run for it's money if I was making heavy use of data, but with the datacard it's not an issue - I can also have bluetooth turned off making up for some of the battery drain that the datacard will inflict.
The Vodafone software supplied is excellent. Using it is entirely optional, but I've found myself loading it up anyway as it's rather good at what it does. Curiously it only reckons I've used 5mb since yesterday, a lie, but having 'unlimited' consumption (subject to the fair use policy, yawn) means I can comfortably ignore it's inaccuracies. If you were on a more tightly metred tariff, however, you'd have cause to be concerned.
Ok, now is an appropriate time to mention this. The flashing lights on the card are incredibly irritating. The red light, indicating 2G signal, isn't actually too bad, but damn, when that blue light kicks in I feel like I'm sat in a disco. When the card is switching or searching both lights start having an epi, as do I!
Content Control is questionable. You'll want to register for My Vodafone so you can take it off straight away. I found that the largest free SMS site in the UK, CBFSMS.com, was actually blocked - despite having no objectionable content whatsoever - a disturbing application of a technology supposed to protect minors. Talk about anti-competition! (The Vodafone software has SMS functionality built in)
Luckily you can tweak almost everything concerning the card. Compression does mangle image quality somewhat, but pressing ctrl+F5 forces no compression anyway - it's best to stick to this rather than disabling compression as it speeds up surfing. Setting up your default applications to tie to the buttons within the Vodafone software is nice and easy, just like the initial installation was - working right out the box with no hiccups.
I intend to use the datacard heavily for the next 14 days before I get tied in to 12 months. I'll keep you all posted on my progress.
2nd November 2005, 03:59 PM
This maybe a little out-of-date but certainly interesting:
In summary, the zdnet guys took the main four data cards out (Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and O2) on the road and, er, road-tested them. They found issues/glitches with all four but in the end found the Vodafone package the best.
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