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Just under a year ago I reviewed the original 3G Orange Mobile Office Card and was decidedly unimpressed. The problems were many with this 3G card, with sub standard hardware and poorly considered software adding up to a package that, quite simply wasn’t up to the job at hand. This situation was made worse for Orange by the fact that only a few weeks earlier I had reviewed the Vodafone Mobile Connect 3G data card, which had performed flawlessly.
I was therefore a little wary when Orange offered to send me the new Mobile Office Card, but I shouldn’t have worried because with this new card the future is bright with Orange! It comes as no surprise to me that the new Mobile Office Card is manufactured by Option. Option is the company that manufactured the original Vodafone Mobile Connect card, which pretty much kicked the original Orange card’s butt – the original Orange Mobile Office Card was manufactured by Merlin. I imagine that Vodafone had an exclusive contract with Option for a while, which is why Orange had to look elsewhere, but now it seems that the exclusive period has expired. Of course that’s only guess work on my part.
What I received from Orange looked very much like the pack that Vodafone sent me last year. There was a thick DVD size box, but inside the card itself was housed in a much smaller box for easy transport. I also received a booster aerial that’s pretty much identical to the one I got from Vodafone. One plus point for Orange is that that aerial can clip onto your notebook lid, whereas the Vodafone one attaches via stick-on Velcro patches – the Orange method makes it far easier to use the aerial with different laptops.
Where this new Orange card does differ from my Vodafone one is the inclusion of WiFi into the bundle. So, as well as 3G and GPRS connectivity, you’re also getting 802.11g WiFi thrown in. Of course if you bought your notebook in the last couple of years, the chances are that it will already have WiFi built-in, so this feature is somewhat limited. However, it’s worth remembering that the original Centrino standard was 802.11b, so there will be a large number of notebook users out there who will welcome an upgrade to 802.11g.