3 Mobile Broadband USB modem (v.2) review: 3 Mobile Broadband USB modem (v.2)

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The Good Stylish new design. Wire-free. 7.2Mbps download speed future-proofs against future network upgrades.

The Bad No discernible performance boost over previous model.

The Bottom Line When tested side-by-side with the previous model, the new 3 USB modem delivered an almost identical performance. Anyone faced with the option of buying the newer or older models would be wise to get this upgrade in preparation for 3 Mobile's network upgrade.

7.2 Overall

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3 Mobile's previous broadband USB modem shared its design with the competition's dongles; a largish elliptical pod dangling from your USB port by a short connecting cord. 3 has ditched the dongle — indicating that while it's still available it may soon be phased out of production — and replaced it with a smaller USB attachment with a sharper, sleeker design.

The new USB modem is shaped like a USB flash memory stick but twice as long. An extender cable is also bundled with the modem, which acts as an antenna for when the modem is used in areas of limited reception. If we have one tiny, niggling complaint to make about the design, it's that the cap which covers the USB connection on the front can't fit on the back of the modem when it's in use, making it somewhat easier to lose.

While compacting the hardware of the original design into its sexier new body, this revised model has also received a speed boost and is now capable of receiving data at 7.2Mbps, rather than 3.6Mbps like the older model. That said, the 3 Mobile network is, at the time of writing this, only capable of transmitting data at 3.6Mbps, however, an upgrade is scheduled for the end of 2008, which this new modem will be compatible with when the time comes.

Similar to the previous model, the new 3 USB modem features auto-installation directly from the USB drive. There's also a CD in the box to install the necessary drivers and software to use the modem with a Mac.

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