Now, it’s obviously a shame that you can’t just plug and play if you want to use a Mac, but it’s worth remembering that this is the only HSDPA module that can be used with a Mac at all. When I first tried out the Mobile Connect Modem the Mac drivers didn’t support the new Intel based hardware, but in the nick of time, Vodafone sent me some new drivers that did support the Intel based machines. Both sets of drivers should be available for download from the Vodafone website by the time you read this review. I tested the modem using both a G4 PowerBook and an Intel Core Duo based MacBook and it worked flawlessly in both cases. I managed to get downloads of around 130KB/sec, which is pretty standard for a 1.8Mbit/sec HSDPA connection – and that was connecting from the TrustedReviews office, where reception is notoriously poor. So, now Mac users can enjoy lightning fast download speeds on the move, even if they don’t have a PC Card slot in their machine. Vodafone has also informed me that despite the lack of a driver disc in my review sample, the production units will ship with a driver CD for Intel based Macs.
Using the Mobile Connect Modem on a Windows based system is simplicity itself. You just plug the device into a free USB port and then sit back and wait for everything to happen. The Mobile Connect Modem is instantly recognised as both a data device and a USB mass storage device. The drivers for the modem are then automatically loaded from the embedded USB storage and a virtual CD-ROM is created to allow you to run the Mobile Connect Lite software without ever having to install it onto your computer. If there’s one downside, it’s that the Mobile Connect Lite, as its name suggests, isn’t as fully featured as the Mobile Connect suite that ships with the data card. There’s no option to send text messages direct from the application like you can on the full suite for instance, which is a shame. But considering the functionality you’re getting with this little beast, this oversight is easily forgiven.
It’s also worth remembering that since the Mobile Connect Modem uses the USB interface, it’s not limited to notebook use either. There’s nothing stopping you from connecting the device to a desktop PC if it doesn’t have an Internet connection. In fact I hooked it up to a couple of desktop machines and it just went about its business without issue. Now I know that most desktop PCs already have an Internet connection, but if your ISP happened to go down, it would be handy to be able to just plug an HSDPA modem into the USB port to keep you working.