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We got the Vodafone Dongle as part of a package with our HP Laptop, the Laptop came free when you signed up for 2 years Vodafone Internet via the Dongle. Vodafone confirmed we would have at 3G connection in our area so we decided to go for it! At the time we thought it was a good deal but soon realised we have been ripped off...a lot. The package was £15 per month and we have a 250MB limit and the internet was based on a pre-pay basis.
The Dongle is the size of a Memory Stick and is White in colour and plastic in material with a red LED light to signify when it is connected. You simply insert the Sim Card into the Dongle and use the supplied CD software to take you through the set up step by step. The set up is remarkably easy and you can set up and be using the internet in a matter of minutes. The dongle also has a mini-SD card slot so when not being used as a dongle can double up as a USB memory stick.
Now that's it for good points, so you can which direction I am going with this device...it's awful!
The Dongle connects via your USB point and ours would more around in the port a lot dropping out of the internet if you ever moved the laptop. Also the signal was non-existent. We we're very lucky to even get a 3G signal so was always running through a GPRS signal which was slower than the dial up internet we had had previously. A webpage would take up to 5 minutes to load! We contacted Vodafone about this and was told that it wasn't there problem, it was because of where we lived...very helpful considering they had guaranteed a 3G signal!
The Dongle used to disconnect itself from the net and then error to say it had been disconnected incorrectly, it would then not reconnect for hours! The software was also non-responsive and the help section did not help at all. After 6 months of having very minimal internet connection the dongle itself broke. The USB port gave up the ghost and would not register with the laptop, again Vodafone was unhelpful and told us we would have to return it to one of the appropriate Vodafone Shops which was Birmingham - about 30 miles away and then collect it back when it was fixed! We offered to hand back the Laptop and Dongle and asked if we could then cancel the contract as it was unfit for purpose but they refused. In the end we took the case to the ombedsman and managed to get the contract cancelled on the premise of mis-sold service!
I would not recommend this service or Dongle and my brother also had the same Dongle and could not get a 3G signal either living in a different area!
Having reviewed the laptop and phone that my work provides, I thought that I might as well write a review on another gadget that my company provides for my use.
Being on the road for the majority of my working day means that I need an internet connection of some description in order to keep up with the latest e-mails and information that I require.
Wireless connections are hit and miss and there isn't always a McDonald's or Starbucks around to leach from - so a 3G connection is the only alternative.
I can't say I'm an expert in the field of 3G connections but I can talk from experience of using this device. I'm afraid to say that it hasn't been a good experience though...
Perhaps I better get the good points out of the way first. The device is small, lightweight and is actually quite cool. The piano white casing with red trim is quite nice and looks the part while a hidden LED lights up at various points to indicate your connection status. It also boasts a slot for a mini-SD card so that you can also used the device as a memory stick. A matching lid is supplied to cover the USB connection when not in use. Okay, good points over!
The main problem with this device is the software provided. It is slow, dim-witted and unreliable to say the least! Once you plug your 'dongle' in to the USB port, it takes an eternity for the software to recognise that it's there and sometimes it can't even do that - I'm often left with a 'No device' message on screen and end up having to reboot the software or re-insert the dongle. What's worse is that the software often causes my laptop to freeze or crash - when I remove the dongle, the computer immediately picks up speed again and runs smoothly.
If the software is having a good day and manages to find your device, then you face the next problem of finding a signal! Signal seems to vary from day-to-day - even when you're in the same location. What's more, anything below 2 bars in signal and you can pretty much forget about broadband speeds. The best signals only seem to be available near towns or cities - venture out into the countryside and you'll hit problems.
Although disconnecting should be a straightforward process - it has caused me a major problem in the past. On one occasion, my 'dongle' stopped working altogether after it had been disconnected - Upon further research and investigation along with the help of my own IT department and a Vodafone Support Forum, it was thought that the dongle hadn't disconnected properly from my last session and this somehow managed to screw up the device. A replacement device was delivered and thankfully this issue hasn't occurred since - however, some of my colleagues have experienced the same problem!
So, what can I say? My experience hasn't been good with this particular device and I learned very quickly that it shouldn't be relied upon - especially in areas with a poor signal.
To be fair though, if you live in an area with good 3G signal and can live with the sluggish Vodafone software then it works okay. But should you really have to put up with all that hassle?
My company is currently in the process of moving to a new telecoms provider and we should be receiving new devices in the near future - so it will be interesting to see how their dongle stacks up against this one! I don't think it could do any worse!
Over the summer (2010), I tried out O2 and Virgin's mobile broadband services. Both had severe reliability problems and were not particularly user friendly. Over September and October 2010, I've used Vodaphone with my laptop and it's been excellent.
Firstly, for those who care about these things, I'm using a fairly old laptop running Windows XP. I've used it in London and in Norwich.
The deal: Pay As You Go. The dongle costs 25 pounds including 3 GB of data lasting a month. N.B. It's a case of whichever runs out first, the 3GB bandwidth, or the month. After that, it's a 15 pound top-up, again 3GB or month, whichever runs out first. I believe you can leave the account unused for up to 6 months.
Reliability: extremely reliable. No downtime over this almost two month period.
Speed: I haven't measured this. It can be a bit slow at peak times, but it's a lot better than dial-up! Most of the time, it's as good as wired-in broadband except when it comes to using Skype (although even here, it is better than I found O2 or Virgin to be). People often have trouble hearing me and I don't even bother with video (which in any case would eat into my bandwidth allowance). So, it is a bit weak for decent Skype conversations.
Usability: unlike competitors, where you have to go to the web site and poke around to find the relevant place for your user account, the information is available on a program which sits on the toolbar, so you can find out how much bandwidth you've used and when the month ends within a few seconds.
Support: I used the forum, receiving an answer to my question within hours. I don't know about how good other support is.
Topping up: you can do it via the software on the computer (this is set up when you first plug in the dongle), or you can go to a Vodaphone shop and buy a voucher which you then type into the software. Pretty convenient, I'd say.
I like modern technology and don't think I could get by these days without use of the internet. It's become an integral part of life and I use it daily almost without even thinking about it. At home we do not have a phone line connected as both my partner and I are happy using our mobiles and don't see the need for an extra phone service. This does restrict our choice of internet services available, and in the end we decided we would benefit from being online at home and we opted for the obvious answer of Mobile Broadband. This allows you to connect to the internet via a USB input dongle and does not require you to be connected to a phone line in order to access the internet. This sounded perfect for our needs and after a lot of research on different price plans, usage limits, and checking the Which? Consumer recommendations, Vodafone Mobile Broadband seemed to be offering us the best deal.
After I tried to get my head round what was actually involved and it started to make sense, it was really very simple to sign up for the mobile broadband contract. I was able to do this online and did not have to visit a store or talk to anyone over the phone to secure the contract. Seeing as we did not already have an internet connection at home I made use of my internet access at the office to process the order. After filling in my personal details and selecting the plan we wanted then all I had to do was wait for the unit to be posted out to me. This was a very quick process and I believe we had received it after about a week. I had not had any previous experience with Vodafone so was unsure of what to expect, but I was kept updated with regular emails informing me of the various stages of processing and suggesting that I sign up for an online account so I could track my bills.
To test the waters we had selected a fairly basic package which consisted of a USB Modem Stick Lite with 3G download limit per month on a contracted period of 12 months. The cost was £15.00 per month, and you are given a slight reduction if you sign up for a longer contract period of 24 months.
"Your new Vodafone Mobile Broadband USB Modem Stick Lite lets you connect your computer to the internet over the Vodafone high-speed mobile phone network.
* Connect to the internet via the Vodafone mobile USB.
* Manage SMS directly on your computer.
* Inbuilt modern software - plug in, click, you're connected to the internet."
To use this device and the Vodafone Mobile Connect Lite software, you need:
* A computer running Microsoft Windows Vista, Windows XP, or an Apple Mac running Mac OS 10.3.9 or above
* At least 50mb free disk space and 256 MB RAM
* A USB socket
What we received was a fairly neat package consisting of a USB dongle stick, a CD for installing the Vodafone Connect software, a Vodafone SIM card and a small instruction manual. After consulting the instruction manual we began the simple processing of setting up our new piece of kit. Firstly we had to remove the end of the USB stick and insert the SIM card into the SIM holder slot. After that was securely in place we had to insert the USB stick into one of our computer's USB ports. We then inserted the software CD and the setup process started automatically to install the Mobile Connect Lite programme.
Upon first appearances the software seems basic, easy to navigate and quite helpful. You are taken to the main view which allows you to connect or disconnect at the click of a button. The USB stick must be inserted fully to enable the software to connect. Vodafone also mention that to open a mobile connection, you need to be within coverage of a mobile network. As a rule, anywhere you can make a call on your mobile phone, you should be able to connect.
From the main overview you can select the following activities:
* Connect / Disconnect - connect via the mobile phone network.
* Views - view data usage, and additional software settings.
* Start SMS program - send, receive and manage SMS messages and contacts.
* Status - check the status of your connection.
* Help - help topics, plus internet and hotline support.
Over the first few months of using this broadband connection everything was going swimmingly. We were able to use the internet on our laptop computer at home and never had any problems with being able to connect, only suffering occasionally from slow running once we had got online. I opted for billing by direct debit as this has always been the most efficient choice for me. However after a few months I noticed that I had been debited for several extremely expensive bills. Seeing as my usual bill was £15.00 I was surprised to see amounts listed on my bank statement for over £30.00 and £40.00 on three occasions. A bit confused and panicky about what was happening, I logged onto my Vodafone account and tried to view the online billing system. This was almost impossible to decipher and did not give any breakdown that would allow me to work out why I had been overcharged. I then decided to ring up the helpline straight away and see if they could explain the situation for me.
This is when the trouble really begins! First of all I rang through to the helpline, made my way through various menu options and ended up speaking to a man in an offshore call centre. I explained to him what my problem was and could he explain to me why I am being billed for these amounts? The reason he gave was that my usage had exceeded the limits that I was given, and they had automatically added on extra allowance which had increased the cost of my monthly bill. I was shocked to hear this, as one of the things I had liked about the Connect Lite software was that it allows you to set a usage limit and should give you a warning message when you are approaching the limit, and then again as you reach the full limit. I had never seen any notifications that my limit had been reached and then surpassed so I wondered if there was a problem with the software? The call handler then proceeded to tell me that I obviously don't know how to use the software and that it was my fault that this had happened. As you can imagine I was most displeased! I'm very familiar with computers and as well as knowing how this software works, I also set it up so that it checks for updates every time I connect. I hadn't missed any updates and as far as I knew the limits I had set should have been in place and working correctly. I wanted to know how this system failure had been occurred and if they were prepared to do anything about my excessive bills. The call handler shrugged off my queries and just repeated that it was my problem. After about 20 minutes of repeating myself and trying to explain I was getting very unhappy and asked if there was anyone else I could speak to about the matter. He said that no he had answered my questions and he would not put me through to anyone else. Well, he certainly had not answered my questions in a way that I found to be satisfactory, so I decided to play the card of "well in that case I would like to speak with someone about terminating my contract please". I was amazed to hear his reply that I could not do this, and there is no one who can do that! In the end after around 30 minutes I gave up, hung up the phone and started over again.
This time I re-listened to the menu options and found what I was looking for, and ended up speaking to a Scottish chap who was part of the British based department in charge of closing contracts. I explained everything over again and at least I was given an apology here. Still annoyed from the previous call, I stated that I wanted to cancel my contract and asked how much it would cost. After some quick calculations he came up with the figure of £75.00 (as best as I can remember). I was once again shocked as this was only half way through my contract, and if I went through with this I would be paying a big lump of money for a service that I had only received half of. I still wanted to be able to use the internet, and overall this want won out. I asked if he would consider looking into the cost of the previous bills and he agreed to clear 50% of the extra charges, which I thought was reasonable. I was worried about this happening again if the download limit was no longer meeting my needs and the software was not notifying me of my limits reached. So I enquired about options for increased download usage. I decided to switch to the 5GB download limit for the remainder of the contract, and although annoyed that I had to resort to this I was at least pleased that this should be resolved for the remaining months on my contract. This was to cost an extra £10.00 a month, coming to a total of £25.00, but it best paying double or even triple what I was supposed to be charged for unknowingly exceeding my limits.
As well as setting a usage limit, the Connect Lite software also allows you to track how your download information. However this appears to be very flaky and Vodafone even tell you that it may not be accurate so to check online for the correct figures. I had trusted that the usage limit setting would notify me when I reached the specified point, but after this problem occured I realised that it obviously did not work. I then tried to check using the software but it did not seem to accumulate the number or give an accurate representation so again I was unable to get a proper picture of my usage. I then tried going online to my account to view a break down of the billed amount. Break down is a fitting term as they broke it down into such minute amount that it was impossible to figure out exactly where I was. There was nothing obvious that said __% used, or ___MB/GB used, and then a remaining figure. What I can see is pages and pages of data showing every bite of information downloaded when I have been accessing the internet. I think my brain would have exploded had I tried to calculate this and it certainly wasn't clear to me at any point what level my usage was at currently. I guess what I was hoping for and expecting was either a decent piece of software that would accurately track my usage, or a more easily readable bill that would make sense and allow me to understand my usage levels. I had also maybe expected some sort of cut off point when I reached the limit, or at least to be notified so that I could choose to continue use and pay the extra fees, but there was no fore-warning, just a hefty bill afterwards.
Since then I have always managed to stay within my upgraded usage limits, and am now in the final month of my contract. I have been really put off using Vodafone and will be glad to see the end of my contract with them. As well as receiving poor customer service and faulty software I also have issues with the connection speed that we manage to get when connected with the USB stick. The USB stick has an LEF light inside the body of it, and when lit up this shows the white plastic casing. This will light up green, blue or red depending on your connection. I have noticed that when I am supposedly running a "good" connection, I often get slower and temperamental results, and strangely enough I seem to have better luck when the connection is stated to be "poor". This can be very irritating and the slow times can occur at any point of the connection.
As for SMS messaging, I must admit I've never tried it. If I'm online with the Vodafone internet connection then I may as well contact my friends by email, Facebook, chat etc. I also have a mobile phone contract that offers unlimited text messaging so I always use that as it is more convenient and I don't have the complication of some people sending messages to my mobile phone and others sending messages to my mobile USB stick.
All in all I think the idea of Vodafone's Mobile Broadband service is excellent. Unfortunately I ended up paying a lot of money for something that did not give me what I wanted and provided a comparatively low download limit. The customer service I received was fine in respects of regular automated emails, but when I had occasion to actually phone up and speak to their customer representatives in the call centres I was really displeased with the way they handled my queries. This experience has really but me off using any Vodafone product in the future and I am glad that my mobile broadband contract is almost over. I know I am not alone in this, as one of my friends has had a similar experience and she told me of other people that she knows who have also been badly overcharged. I will certainly not be renewing this contract and I hope this review has warned other people about the possible flaws of this service. Approach with caution, or ideally avoid!
the Vodafone prepay USB mobile is a very easy and useful appliance that helped me when I needed to write some reviews and my internet was down. The modem is easily inserted into the USB port of my laptop or PC and you have to go through setup stages and install the program onto your PC. You insert the sim card into the slot on the top of the modem and you use prepay topup vouchers to activate your account.
What really made me like this product is that it is white and stands out, I think that it has excellent boradband speed when you attach it properly and make sure the setup is official.
I think the price of the modem is a little much for something so small. I mean, sure the connection speed is fast but it's like having a phone but you don't get to enjoy the free little extras that the network have to offer. The price of the dongle is £24.99 on Amazon.co.uk. I have heard before I bought it that the speed was terrible, but I figured out that if you have a good connection on your mobile you will have a good connection on your dongle. I don't know why they call it a dongle but I think it has something to do with the flimsyness of the product.
It has a nice little cap that protects the USB port from getting damaged when not in use.
The only thing that I would have to say is bad about the product is that it can only be used for one IP address. It makes it impossible to share the internet use with other computers in the same house or for that matter any computer at all. So overall I would recommend this product to all as I dont see why it can;t be used for someone on the go, or if you just can;t be asked to go through all that hassle of getting a wireless router.