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Vodafone Mobile Wi-Fi R205 review

Gordon Kelly

By

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

Pros

  • First Vodafone HSPA+ mobile WiFi
  • OLED display shows key information
  • Connects up to five devices simultaneously
  • Intuitive browser setup & mobile apps

Cons

  • Expensive data tariffs
  • Poor battery life
  • No charging cradle supplied

Key Features

  • HSPA+ 21.1Mbps compatibility
  • Three line OLED display
  • Connects up to five devices
  • Four hour battery life
  • MicroSD slot
  • Manufacturer: Vodafone
  • Review Price: £75.00

Few sectors are more competitive (or more hostile) than the telecoms industry and it seems remarkable the Three HSPA MiFi has been without direct major competition for eight months. Thankfully Vodafone has now stepped forward with its own HSPA 'Mobile WiFi' to bring some much needed rivalry…

R205

The Vodafone Mobile WiFi R205 comes from familiar stock. Like Three's HSPA MiFi it is built by Chinese networking giant Huawei and is based on the E586 design. From the outside the R205 therefore follows the familiar river-smoothed-pebble design of MiFi (though it uses a different case) and is packed with MiFi battling specifications. These include HSPA/3G compatible theoretical download and upload speeds of up to 21Mbit and 5.76Mbit respectively and 802.11bgn WiFi. In addition at 95.5 x 50 x 14.1mm and 80g it is almost exactly the same size as the MiFi, but 10g lighter.

Take a closer look at the R205 and there are additional similarities. Like the MiFi the R205 uses an OLED display and its onscreen information is easy to read and identically laid out. From top left to bottom right this is: signal strength, connection type, number of connected devices (up to five), new messages and battery life while along the bottom is total data usage, time of the current connection and roaming state ('R' shows if enabled).

To bring up the display you tap the power button on the R205's right side. To switch the R205 on or off hold down this button for up to five seconds, a useful feature which stops it accidentally reacting to bumps in a pocket or bag. Meanwhile on the left side there is a 32GB compatible microSD slot which turns the R205 into a memory key when plugged into a PC via the microUSB port on the bottom, which also doubles as the charge point.

One significant omission appears to be that of the MiFi's dedicated security button, which brought up the SSID and wireless key. In actual fact double press the power key and this information comes up. The problem is this isn't very intuitive and we can see many customers not realising this for the life time of their devices. This lack of clear labelling is irksome, but forgiveable if performance and pricing whet the appetite.

From the off we have to say testing mobile Wi-Fi is far from a science, even when its nearest rival uses the same core chipset. Coverage strength varies wildly from place to place, network to network and even time of day while a single heavy downloader nearby can skew results completely. Furthermore without undertaking a nationwide tour we can only test in a limited number of areas. As such we would recommend you take the time to check the network reception in the places you are most frequently and along your most travelled routes. Saying all that, the results we received do make for interesting reading…

ElectricSheep

May 8, 2012, 7:34 pm

What a rip off. Vodafone / O2 and Orange seriously need to become more competitive with data and upgrade their shabby 3G network speeds.

At this price it would make more sense to buy a Galaxy Europa 3G phone brand new, for £60 and then buy 3GB '3' Data SIM cars from Amazon. ( http://www.amazon.co.uk/Origin... )

These are only £12 inc. delivery and once you start using them they last for 3 months...no registering or activation required. Just pop them in an start downloading. These are also a lot cheaper than '3' charge for the same data. Go figure!

Then just use the 3G android handset to create a wifi hotspot.

I've been running a Vodafone, GiffGaff, 3 and Orange PAYG data SIM for the past 6 months and have found that 3 completely destroys the competition on price and performance.

This once much lamented network, has taken big steps forward. I have found their network coverage to be superb, overall. Especially in terms of data speed and reliability in many locations, urban & rural.

TrustedPhrontis

May 9, 2012, 12:21 am

As usual with Vodafone the idea sounds good, the implementation is utter rubbish. I have finally left them after 2 years of so c**p service it does not bear thinking about. Trouble is my company phone is still with them. I now use a 3 dongle, it is fantastic, I quite often get 8Mb out of it when the company equivalent can not even get a signal. I would try to sell my UnSure Signal on eBay but I don't want my 100% rating stuffing because the useless piece of s*** would fail, AGAIN!!!!!!
What you have reviewed is typical of Voda these days.

Phrontis

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