3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key

Plug and play mobile broadband

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3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key
  • 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key
  • 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key
  • 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key

Pros

  • Slimline design, plug and play, HSDPA 7.2 enabled, intuitive software, easy to set up and use, My3 online usage checker

Cons

  • 7.2Mbps speeds not possible until completion of network upgrade, expensive if you go over the usage limit

Bottom Line

The Internet Key is a competitive offering thanks to a slimline design, plug-and-play capabilities and reasonable costs.

Would you buy this?

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3 Mobile has launched a new-look Internet key that offers wireless access to the Internet via 3's high-speed 3G network. In addition to a slimline design, the Internet Key is plug and play — the software required for its use is installed off the USB device itself, meaning greater flexibility when using it on multiple computers.

According to 3 Mobile, the Internet Key delivers average download speeds of 1.5Mbps and upload speeds of up to 384kbps. It's important to keep in mind that the actual speed achieved will vary depending on a number of factors such as device capabilities, your location and equipment, as well as network usage at the time. However, the Internet Key is HSDPA 7.2 enabled, meaning it will support speeds of up to 7.2Mbps when 3 Mobile completes the next upgrade of its network. (This is currently underway according to 3, but no date has been provided as to when it will be completed. For more information on 3's HSDPA coverage, check out its website.)

3's Mobile Broadband service supports connectivity in HSDPA, 3G and GPRS coverage areas. If the HSDPA signal strength isn't strong enough, the service falls back to standard 3G (a maximum speed of 384Kbps). If no HSDPA or 3G signal can be received, then the modem will revert to standard GSM (60Kbps maximum), which is barely useable, even for basic web browsing.

The Internet Key is one of the smallest mobile broadband devices on the market. Aside from its compact size, one of its main appeals is the fact that the software required to use the service is installed on the USB device itself. This means much more flexibility in terms of using the unit on multiple computers, as you don't need to carry a software disk around with you. It connects via USB, so it offers a flexible alternative for users of desktop PCs and notebooks, as many new machines don't have PC Card slots. The Internet Key is available in soft touch black or shiny white, and features an extra antenna to boost the broadband signal if required.

During testing, the Internet Key performed well in our offices (based in St Leonards, Sydney) receiving a standard HSDPA signal. For consistency we performed a number of tests, ranging from sending and receiving small amounts of data, like emails and basic Web browsing, to streaming services, and finally to basic downloading of files (ranging from 1MB to 57MB in size).

The Internet Key has no problem with basic Web browsing, loading pages swiftly and without much delay. If you are in a HSDPA or 3G coverage area, streaming media from sites like YouTube will be fine. But it will be impossible if the coverage drops down to GSM. Downloading files while in a standard HSDPA coverage area, we were able to achieve speeds of up to 170KBps, but fluctuating regularly between 120KBps and 140KBps. As an example, we managed to download a 57MB file in 5min54sec, a transfer rate of 164KBps.

The Mobile Broadband software included on the Internet Key scores points for ease of use and setup. It is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS, and took less than a couple of minutes to install. The software has menus for connect/disconnect, browser, SMS, contacts and My3. The latter is a convenient way to manage your monthly usage, view invoices or change any account details. You can quickly view information on the current session at the bottom of the window, including duration of connection, the volume of data sent and received, and the current signal strength.

3's Mobile Broadband plans for the Internet Key start at $15 per month for 1GB of data and range up to $29 (3GB) and $49 (6GB) plans over 24 months. On top of this, the key has a device monthly repayment of $10 per month or $5 per month for existing customers. All plans charge an additional 10 cents per megabyte for any additional usage, and $1.65 per megabyte for international roaming usage.

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