Product Type: T-Mobile in Modems & Communication
Newest Review: ... handy feature about the software is that down the left-hand side it tells you your daily, monthly and annual upload and download ... more
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T Mobile Broadband USB Stick
Member Name: lesleyann08
T Mobile Broadband USB Stick
Date: 19/01/13, updated on 19/01/13 (61 review reads)
Advantages: No hidden charges. Easy to install. Easy to use. Ideal for browsing.
Disadvantages: Download Speeds. Fair Usage Policy.
Today I will be reviewing the T-mobile dongle. I have recently begun using it again since receiving a new netbook for Christmas. I purchased my first T-mobile dongle as part of a contract package around December 2010 when mobile broadband was first launched, and continued to use it as a pay as you go dongle, when the contract ended. I bought my second dongle (same model) shortly after this time when the first one malfunctioned. My first I was very happy with, my second which I bought around April 2012 on a pre-loaded basis for £39.99 from Argos, not so much so. (You will soon see my reasons for this as the review progresses).
As I state at the beginning I have only begun using this again since Christmas time, and the service has changed dramatically, and which is what I am going to be centering this review around, as there isn't really many technical aspects to share.
To begin with the dongle is very simple to use and install. You can purchase either as a contract, pay as you go (where you get an e-top up card to top up like a mobile phone), or you can purchase pre-loaded with 90 days internet (you can use it as a pay per day dongle after this pre-loaded time expires). When you get it home, you simply take it out of the box and plug it into you PC/laptop/tablet/netbook. There is no installation disk as the software is preloaded on the dongle. So no worries if you don't have a disk drive. Once you plug it in the light on the dongle will flash from green to blue, then settle on blue. A dialogue box will pop up, prompting you to set the installation language from a drop down menu. Once you select your language the software will begin to install itself, and next thing you know a little box will pop up saying installation complete and prompting you to restart your machine. Voila, your Web 'n' Walk Manager software is then successfully installed.
In Web and Walk Manager there are five main buttons:
Connect/Disconnect - Exactly as it says, an option to connect or disconnect your internet.
Internet - An option to launch your internet browser directly from your internet software.
Statistics - A handy display where you can track you upload and download speeds.
Text - Another handy feature where you can send and receive text messages directly to your internet software.
Phonebook - Yet another handy feature included in the software is the application to store important contact details, for friends, family and colleagues.
Across the top of the software there are also, the usual scroll-over, drop down bars: File, Operations, Tools and Help, which allow you to customize your software options.
Another handy feature about the software is that down the left-hand side it tells you your daily, monthly and annual upload and download statistics, which is handy for keeping an eye on your data usage.
One annoying feature upon successful installation of software is the pre-set content lock. It is rather strictly set too and until removed limits access to even the most used components such as social networking, video streaming and online gaming, such as bingo or poker. Annoyingly it can only be removed online by entering your credit card details. If either you don't have a credit card or are not comfortable entering your details online you can pop into your local T-mobile store with photographic ID and have the staff in-store remove it for you.
Strangely, even when you buy on contract (which obviously you must be over 18 to have gained in the first place) the content lock is still in place until removed.
I think I will begin with the positives in this product first.
- Obviously the fact that the dongle is transportable is extremely handy. As long as you have aerial coverage you can have internet at anyplace, anytime.
- As I've previously mentioned this product is easily installed and extremely easy to use.
- Topping-up your dongle is fairly reasonable when it comes to the terms of price and you can expect to pay for your booster: £2 per day, £7 per week, £15 per month or £30 for three months, although a fair usage policy(FUP) does apply (and sucks in my opinion, but I will cover that later in the review). It is also unlimited, meaning if you ever go over your FUP, you will not be charged any extra, but your usage will be restricted. Which means there are no hidden costs, you will know exactly how much you are spending and how long you can expect to be able to access the internet for before needing to purchase another booster.
- If you go for the pre-loaded or pay-per-day option there are no contracts involved, so you are not tied to the company in any way, and can leave whenever you wish, should you be unhappy with the service provided.
- It is ideal for browsing, checking email, low-usage gaming, checking the news online shopping and such as, but not for activities like video streaming, or downloading files, but again I will cover this later in the review.
- I find the earlier covered fact that you can text and receive text messaged directly from the software to be a really handy feature, and use it myself often.
- Also another very handy option that I'd almost forgotten about to be honest, as I have a seperate device in which I use for this purpose, is that the device can double as a Memory stick. To achieve this, all you have to do is simply pop a Micro SD memory card into the slot provided under the covering of the dongle, and you have a 2-in-1 mobile broadband dongle & USB memory stick combined.
Now I will begin to cover the downsides to the product.
- My main bug bear is the Fair Usage Policy attached to the dongle. This wasn't previously a problem for me, which I will explain in a moment, however, due to recent service changes as I said it's a real bug bear.
If you purchase the £7 option or above you have a fair usage limit of 1GB. This may sound like a lot but it really isn't. (For example, if I catch up with one half-hour episode of Eastenders on the BBC iPlayer, I am then over my FUP for the remaining web time on my dongle)
Now once you go over this limit, they do not charge you anymore, they do however restrict your usage, which means; no online video streaming, no downloading files and no online gaming. You can however browse the web, check your email and social networking.
The FUP resets either at the beginning of the next calendar month, or when you booster expires and you purchase a new one.
This really bothers me as I like to catch up on my soaps online once I've finished doing hair for the day and got my little one off to bed, and after one episode I can no longer do that or play any of my many vices, which are facebook games.
The policy used to work slightly differently and was much better in my opinion. Once you went over your FUP you were only restricted during peak times and could use as normal between the hours of 12am and 4pm. Which meant that I, could either stay up a little later to watch or download overnight to watch the following evening.
If you are looking to do things like this, then I would advise that you go for regular broadband as opposed to mobile broadband.
- Another bug bear is download speeds. T-mobile advertises that their dongle reaches speeds of up to 7mbps. Well if that is the case I've certainly never seen them. The best speed I have ever had is approaching 2mbps.
(As I previously noted you can track your speeds, in the software, which is handy) This means that streaming and online gaming to do tend to lag during play.
Not that I personally have tried it with my dongle (it really doesn't appeal to me), but my partner has and has advised me that due to the very low internet speed, it is unsuitable for use with things such as Xbox Live.
- A small but another slight pain with the dongle is that I have to use an USB extension to use it as with the dongle plugged into the USB on the netbook, I can't fit my charger in at the same time, as it's a bit on the bulky side for a dongle. This however, may just be due to the fact that I'm using a netbook and in fairness the USB ports are not the most ideally placed.
- One thing that really is extremely frustrating about using the dongle is the nightmare it is to top up if you lose or misplace your e-top-up card. If you a have T-mobile phone to put the sim card from the dongle in then it isn't really a problem, as you can buy a regular top-up voucher from the shop. If not you have to top-up online with a credit/debit card, as there is no place on the website to enter a top-up voucher. Which is my opinion is a pain in the rear if you don't like using your card online or simply don't have one, as the site also likes to save your card details and the website isn't exactly what I'd call user friendly (in short it's a nightmare to navigate).
Another thing is unless you top-up online with your credit/debit card, you can only top up in multiples of £5, when at least two of the options are priced not within these multiples, but with your card you can top up in multiples of £1, which makes much more sense.
- Something I find to be particularly annoying is a fault with the Web 'n' Walk Manager software required to run the dongle. It is a nightmare to close, and it actually wont. Without selecting the force shut-down option on your machine, which although I'm no expert I'm sure can't be very good for it in the long run.
- As previously mentioned the content lock is also pretty annoying as is, although not really relevant, T-Mobile's customer service, which quite frankly sucks! On the several occasions I have had to call them up (and pay the 25p for the privilege) the staff I've spoken to have been unhelpful and downright rude (although I'm sure they're not all like that).
You may be wondering if I can pick so many faults with the dongle why I have continued to use it. Quite simply, I grudge paying the abdominal installation charge for home broadband, when it is something I am confident in installing myself or paying the line rental for the required landline, when both my partner and I have contract mobile phones, so have no need for.
In conclusion, I would recommend this product for someone looking to use the internet for low-usage activities such as browsing, checking emails etc. However, it is not really suitable for the heavy usage internet user who likes things like downloading music, watching videos on YouTube or playing online games frequently.
It is a bit of a menace to top up if you lose your e-top-up card, but in general is easy to install and easily operated.
Summary: Ideal buy for those looking to do light usage activities like web browsing and checking e-mail.