If this is Telstra's ultimate broadband modem then we have to say it certainly looks the part. The square body of the modem is constructed from a stiff, smooth plastic — a noticeable departure from the feel of flimsy plastic dongles in play in the mobile broadband space at this time.
The modem connects to systems via a rotatable USB connection, capable of turning about 270 degrees and of folding up vertically. This gives you a bit of flexibility in how you position the modem during use, but we also found it to be a bit rickety, as it wobbles gently when touched. We found it possible to disconnect the modem simply by knocking it — not the best idea for a device designed to be used away from desks and office spaces.
Like most mobile broadband modems, the Telstra Ultimate is powered via the USB connection. Under a removable panel you'll find a SIM card slot and a space for a microSD memory card, which is handy if you want the modem to double as a memory stick for backups.
As you probably know, the major drawcard for the Telstra Ultimate is its theoretical maximum throughput of 42Mbps. If this were possible, this would give users a connection to the internet twice as fast as is currently available via a fixed-line ADSL2+ connection. It is, however, almost impossible to achieve this theoretical maximum, with Telstra only advertising a practical (and enormous) range of 1.1Mbps to 20Mbps in select metro areas, and 550Kbps-8Mbps just about everywhere else.
We've tested the performance of this modem in a number of locations around Sydney and achieved results well within this practical range. Our test results varied between 6Mbps and 10Mbps, with a peak result of 12.01Mbps. This is outstanding for a mobile broadband modem, but how does it translate into real-world use?