As with all data devices you can also send and receive SMS messages, which can be pretty useful, as long as your recipients are aware that the phone number associated with the data device is yours. One thing's for sure, I can type an SMS far faster on my notebook than I can on a phone - even an iPhone!
If there's one potential issue with the USB Modem Stick design, it's that it sticks out a fair way when it's inserted into a USB port. That said, if this does bother you, you can employ the aforementioned extender cable, although I didn't find any problems with the USB Modem Stick getting in the way while in use. Personally I'd far rather be able to plug an HSDPA device directly into a USB port rather than using a cable, it's one less thing to have to carry around.
When it comes to cost, the USB Modem Stick can be yours for nothing, as long as you're happy to take out an 18 month contract. For just under £30 per month (£25 plus VAT), you'll get unlimited data at the fastest HSDPA speeds available. Of course when I say unlimited data, there is a "fair use" policy, which limits users to 3GB of data per month, although many home broadband packages have lower data caps than that.
By comparison, T-Mobile's USB Web ‘n' Walk modem will only set you back £20 per month for the same amount of data. However, it's worth remembering that the T-Mobile package is for 1.8mbps HSDPA, so it's potentially far slower than the Vodafone option, while you're also restricted from using VoIP services - no such restrictions apply with Vodafone. As such it comes as no surprise that Vodafone is marketing its HSDPA service to business customers who are likely to pay a premium for that extra speed.
The Vodafone USB Modem Stick is the best HSDPA data device available - it's small, needs no cables and carries its drivers around with it. And while most 7.2mbps HSDPA hardware is limited to the far slower data speeds of the network operator, Vodafone is actually offering 7.2mbps service right now, with wider coverage rolling out throughout the year.
Yes, there are cheaper HSDPA options out there, but if you want the fastest possible data rates while out and about, coupled with the best device, the Vodafone USB Modem Stick is the one to go for. Put simply, unless your notebook has built-in HSDPA functionality, this is the mobile data solution you want.