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If you’re a regular reader of TrustedReviews you’re probably well aware that I’m a fan of 3G data cards. Being able to get online with my notebook pretty much anywhere is a huge bonus for me, and I never leave the office without a notebook and 3G data card in my bag.
When I reviewed the Vodafone Mobile Connect card back in September 2004 I was surprised at how well it performed, while the Orange Mobile Office Card that I looked at a year later showed that Vodafone didn’t have things all its own way. Both those cards provided a download speed of 384Kbit/sec, which was only slightly slower than entry level broadband, and made working out of the office a reality.
But as fast as 384Kbit/sec seemed a year or so ago, it’s starting to look a little tired now as broadband speeds increase, so it’s probably a good thing that HSDPA has finally broken cover. HSDPA or High Speed Downlink Packet Access is an evolution of the 3G data standard and provides a significant increase in speed, so much so that network operators in the UK have called the new standard “Mobile Broadband”.
I had fully expected the first HSDPA device I reviewed to be a Vodafone card, but it was actually T-Mobile that got the hardware to me first. In fact the T-Mobile HSDPA service won’t be live to customers until the beginning of August, but the company allowed me access to the network early in order to write this review.
It comes as no surprise that T-Mobile has gone with hardware from Option, since the company has traditionally manufactured the best data cards. Orange used different hardware for its first 3G data card, but it proved to be a major disappointment, while the second generation card used Option hardware.
As well as supporting UMTS and GPRS the Web “n” Walk card also has integrated Wi-Fi in both 802.11b and g flavours. This is particularly useful since you get 12 months worth of free T-Mobile hotspot access bundled with the card. This doesn’t include hotspot roaming abroad, but it’s still a great inclusion from T-Mobile.