3 Mobile Internet Key E160 USB modem

3 Mobile allows users to roam on Telstra's Next G network with its new Internet Key E160

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3 Mobile Internet Key E160
  • 3 Mobile Internet Key E160
  • 3 Mobile Internet Key E160
  • 3 Mobile Internet Key E160
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Telstra Next G roaming, fast, microSD card expansion, external antenna port

Cons

  • Slightly chunky design

Bottom Line

Its technical specifications suggest the Internet Key E160 is an inferior modem to 3 Mobile's E180 modem. But in practice its throughput speeds and Next G compatibility make for a great wireless broadband modem.

Would you buy this?

The 3 Mobile Internet Key E160 is a wireless broadband USB modem that's easy to set up. It provides full access to Telstra's Next G HSDPA network when roaming outside 3 Mobile's coverage area. Though it has slower maximum speeds than the 3 Mobile Internet Key E180 in theory, the E160 matched the more expensive modem in our tests.

The sleek silver design of the Internet Key E160 USB modem blends well with the aluminium style of Apple's MacBook. A status LED indicates whether the modem has a 2G, 3G or HSDPA connection. The modem is quite thick, which can make it hard to use a neighbouring USB port. However, it does have a microSD card slot and an external antenna connection. The cap for the Internet Key can easily be lost because it's not attached.

The Internet Key E160 USB modem has a theoretical download speed of 3.6 megabits per second. As one of 3 Mobile's "Mega 3G Modems", it is also compatible with the 850MHz HSDPA radio spectrum and can roam over Telstra's Next G network when not within the coverage of 3 Mobile's own network. The 7.2Mbps E180 modem only roams on Telstra's 2G network. 3 Mobile has reduced roaming charges for mobile broadband use, charging 50c per MB when using Telstra's 2G or Next G networks. For those who need wireless broadband in regional areas, compatibility with the Next G network is certainly beneficial.

3 Mobile has included the accompanying software on the USB modem itself, making set up quick and easy. The software works on both Windows and Mac computers, and provides basic usage statistics for the current session. 3 Mobile recommends users rely on their My3 account for more accurate data. You can also write and receive text messages, and view or edit contacts stored on the SIM card.

The 3 Mobile Internet Key E160 performed capably in our tests. Displaying full signal in our North Sydney offices, the Internet Key E160 recorded an average download speed of 1Mbps in GoodGearGuide's own Broadband Speed Test and an average upload speed of 322Kbps.

In real-world tests, the Internet Key E160 USB modem handled standard Web browsing well and downloaded files quite quickly. A 77MB file from NVIDIA's servers took 8min 5sec to download at a rate of 158.7 kilobytes per second, while a 63.6MB file from ATI's servers was even faster, downloading in 5min 45sec at a rate of 184KBps. The modem's speed is generally on par, and in some cases faster, than those of the E180 modem.

The 3 Mobile Internet Key E160 exceeded our expectations and the ability to roam over Telstra's far reaching (if expensive) Next G HSDPA network is a welcome feature.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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