USB modems don't tend to vary in design that much, and Vodafone's latest offering, dubbed the "Mega Modem" isn't really that much of a standout unit in design terms. As with every USB modem on sale in Australia (save for those offered by Telstra), it's a re-badged Huawei offering, in this case the K4505. Our review sample came in a white casing with a very dark red trim; in some light you might even think it was dark brown. The K4505 doesn't use an easily lost USB cap, instead plumping for a switch on the side that pops the USB connector out. Vodafone has sold previous USB modems that did this, and our only concern here is that if the switch weakens over time, it can become tough to get the modem to plug properly into a USB port.
The real story behind the Mega-Modem isn't its good looks, however. It's the fact that it's Vodafone's first quad-band device to market for mobile broadband customers, operating on the 850/900/1900/2100Mhz bands. Vodafone's in the process of rolling out its 850Mhz network, first across major metropolitan areas. The company's coverage checker provides a map of where it has 850Mhz coverage both installed and planned, but the claim with the Mega Modem is that it'll automatically switch to the fastest available network in any case.
The Mega Modem, like most of Huawei's offerings, also supports microSD if you wished to use it as a USB storage device. Where most mobile broadband providers just tend to chuck a splash screen over the straight Huawei login interface, Vodafone has long-provided its own login software, and the Mega Modem is no exception. It's a little prettier and more detailed than the standard software, and will even show you details of the network you're currently on, even if it's not Vodafone itself.
It's no particular secret that Vodafone has had more than its share of network woes in recent times, so we were interested to note on the Mega Modem's product page that it's covered by what Vodafone calls a "30 Day Mobile Broadband Satisfaction Trial", allowing for contract cancellation within 30 days if you're not happy. Given the genuine variability of all mobile broadband services, that's quite a bold move.