Data card group test - round 1

I’ve heard a few rumors recently from various sources that performance of the latest data cards varies considerably from vendor to vendor, so I’ve decided to put it to the test. I’ve got my mits on Voda’s three latest data devices:

  • Option GlobeTrotter Express (’Etna’)
  • Huawei E870 ExpressCard
  • Huawei E270 USB Modem

Laptop and data cards

They’re all 7.2Mbps/HSUPA capable devices, all sharing the same Qualcomm 7200 chipset. My test setup consisted of the following:

  • 17″ MacBook Pro, running:
  • Transmit - an FTP client
  • Safari - web browser
  • Net Monitor - bandwidth monitor

I’m running the tests from my desk at home, in central Oxford.  The signal here is reasonable - my Palm Treo’s showing 2 bars of 3G coverage.

In order to run the tests, I started up an FTP download, then two HTTP downloads (linux distros again proving handy here) - I then used Net Monitor’s stopwatch feature to track the average and peak throughput for a fixed file size. I had to use multiple concurrent downloads in order to get the throughput up - downloading a single file rarely gave results over 800Kbps. Here’s a screenshot of Net Monitor in action:

Net Monitor

The results

Device Download (avg/peak) Upload (avg/peak)
Option GlobeTrotter 1.3Mbps / 1.4Mbps 367Kbps / 425Kbps
Huawei E870 1.3Mbps / 1.4Mbps 367Kbps / 402Kbps
Huawei E270 1.3Mbps / 1.3Mbps 366Kbps / 380Kbps

So all in all, pretty close to say the least! The E270 seems to have lost out marginally on peak data rates, but with all devices pushing 1.3Mbps average download speed, there’s not much in it.

I’m running these tests on a network that’s not yet been upgraded to 7.2Mbps - stay tuned - once I track down some coverage I’ll repeat the tests.

Posted by fatcat on October 22nd, 2007

Filed under ExpressCards, USB Modem | 5 Comments »

linksys 3G router (WRT54G3G) firmware update

Linksys RouterJust spotted a firmware update for the Linksys WRT54G3G - this is the WiFi router that has a PC Card slot, into which you can put a data card. I’ve just taken a peek at the revision notes for this update and it’s added support for the Option HSUPA ExpressCard (Etna / GE0301), when combined with the PC Card adaptor sleeve.

You’ll notice in the revision notes that it doesn’t support the NDIS variant of these cards - Vodafone UK ship these cards with a modem interface, therefore they’ll work a-ok with this router.

Download it from http://www.linksys.com/vodafone

Posted by fatcat on October 21st, 2007

Filed under ExpressCards, Routers | 4 Comments »

Option GlobeTrotter Express firmware update

Here’s an update for the Option GlobeTrotter ExpressCard (7.2/HSUPA card), which updates the firmware to version 2.8.0. If you purchased your card before 29th October 2007, we recommend that you apply this update. The main benefit of this update is that it fixes a potential issue that may result in the card’s file system becoming corrupted, resulting in permanent damage to the card.

You can download the update here. This is only for Vodafone UK devices.

If you find that your card has already been affected by this issue, contact Vodafone and they’ll arrange a replacement for you (the devices come with a 24 month warranty).

Posted by fatcat on October 19th, 2007

Filed under ExpressCards | No Comments »

Mobile Connect Lite V3

The Mobile Connect Lite software is used by the ‘plug and go’ devices and is a cut-down version of the full V9 dashboard designed to run from the flash memory contained on the devices. This latest upgrade offers a number of stability improvements, especially for Windows 2000 users.

Supported devices and operating systems

Windows 2000

Windows XP

Windows Vista 32 bit

Windows Vista 64 bit

USB Modem

Yes

Yes

Yes*

Yes*

USB Modem 7.2

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

ExpressCard (plug and go)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

*USB modems purchased before June 2007 may require a firmware update before they can be used with Windows Vista

Download for USB Modem 7.2 and ExpressCard
(Huawei E270 / E272 / E870)
Vodafone Mobile Connect Lite V3.0.3.112
(File size: 26MB)

Download for USB Modem
(Huawei E220)
Vodafone Mobile Connect Lite E220 V3.0.3.112

(File size: 26MB)

Posted by fatcat on October 18th, 2007

Filed under Lite dashboard | 17 Comments »

USB Modem / Huawei E220 on Vista. Take 3.

Hopefully this will be the final update in the Windows Vista saga. We’ve now got an all-in-one updater which will:

  • Update Vista to allow it to see the modem
  • Update the firmware the device to the level required to work on Vista (to version 11.110.05.00.00)
  • Update the on-board dashboard software (to version 2.1.6.1)

Grab this updater and follow the included instructions.

Once you’ve completed the update, you might want to update the on-board dashboard to the recently released version 3.

Posted by fatcat on October 10th, 2007

Filed under USB Modem, Windows Vista | 33 Comments »

Dashboard V9.2.1.6545

With the new cards Vodafone have lauched a slightly ammended dashboard version, Mobile Connect 9.2. This has suppport for the new devices (Huawei Express E870 and USB E270 and also the Option Express card “Etna”. Along with this it seems to offer some improvements over the built in optimisation client (the client can be fully omitted using a custom install resolving various issues with other apps such as messenger, AOL, Skype etc) and also problems experienced on older dashboards resulting in Wlan and Lan connections failing with page cannot be displayed. Enjoy…

Supported devices and operating systems

Windows 2000

Windows XP

Windows Vista 32 bit

Windows Vista 64 bit

PC Cards

Yes

Yes

Yes

USB Modems

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

ExpressCards

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Acer (Built-in)

Yes

Dell (Built-in)

Yes

Fujitsu Siemens (Built-in)

Yes

Yes

Lenovo (Built-in)

Yes

Yes

 

Download

Vodafone Mobile Connect V9.2.1.6545
(File size: 75.6MB)

Posted by simplebob on September 13th, 2007

Filed under V9 dashboard | 8 Comments »

Apple Mac users - device choices

Following on from a debate over at PC Pro, here’s a list with the connectivity options for all you Apple Mac users out there:

PowerBook 15″/17″
PC card slot, can use the ExpressCards with the supplied adaptor, or a USB modem

PowerBook 12″, iBook, MacBook
No slot, so the USB modem must be used

MacBook Pro
Either ExpressCard or USB modem

Desktop machines
USB modem

Posted by fatcat on August 31st, 2007

Filed under Mac OS | 6 Comments »

Vodafone launch 7.2Mbps, HSUPA, USB Modem and ExpressCards!

Vodafone have announced that they’re going to upgrade their HSDPA network to support download speeds of 7.2Mbps and upload speeds of 1.4Mbps (via HSUPA). They’re expecting to upgrade the network in central London and a number of UK airports by the end of October, offering the fastest mobile broadband service in the UK.

In order to use their new high speed network, you’ll need to get your mits on one of the three new devices that they’ve launched - here’s some secret snaps for you:

USB Modem

E270

This is a Vodafone branded Huawei E270 USB modem

Huawei ExpressCard

E870

This is a Voda-ised Huawei E870 ExpressCard - the long overdue form factor that’s been missing from Vodafone’s portfolio. This is great news for all MacBook Pro and ultra-portable laptop owners who’s been itching for a card for their ExpressCard slot. This one features the Mobile Connect Lite software on-board - as per the original USB Modem. This means you can plug in the ExpressCard, and just click to connect - no software installation or CDs required.

Option ExpressCard

Etna

This card is a re-branded Option Etna, which has the same spec as the Huawei card, but without Mobile Connect Lite - so you’ll need to install the software from the CD. This device has been launched for corporate customers where IT policy (admin rights, locked down usb ports) prevents the Lite software from working. Both ExpressCards come with a PC Card / / PCMCIA adaptor allowing you to use them with older laptops.

All devices have a similar spec - they’re all 7.2Mbps/HSUPA devices, plus they’re all tri-band 3G - the first ever devices of their kind. This means that they’ll work on Cingular’s 3G network in the USA, plus with Voda’s new pricing you pay £8.50 for 24 hours of access - cheaper and easier than hunting down a WiFi hotspot when US-bound. These devices also feature advanced receivers - so they’ve got two antennas (receive diversity) and software enhancements (equaliser) to improve the speed of the device in all conditions. Here’s a previous blog post on advanced receivers.

Full details on devices available here.

Posted by fatcat on August 28th, 2007

Filed under 3G Broadband / HSDPA, ExpressCards, HSUPA, USB Modem | 2 Comments »

the voip debate

Just seen some posts on the internet about Vodafone’s policy on VoIP - e.g. Skype, iChat, etc. With Vodafone, you can use VoIP on the ‘Mobile Broadband’ price plans - i.e. those designed for laptops, but not the ‘Mobile Internet’ price plans - those designed for handsets.

Posted by fatcat on August 1st, 2007

Filed under Pricing | 1 Comment »

Vodafone (re)launch 24 hour price plans

After last months false start, Vodafone have launched their 24 hour price plans. Just a reminder, there’s two price plans that have launched:
Mobile Broadband - £25/m for UK access, then £8.50 per 24 hours when abroad in Europe, US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand
Mobile Broadband 24 - No monthly charge, £8.50 per 24 hours when in the UK

If you signed up for the £25 per month price plan during July, you’ll currently be getting charged £4.25 per MB. Vodafone will automatically enable the £8.50 per 24 hour roaming for all of their customers by the middle of September - you can expect a letter in the post during August with the details.

You can find more details on the online store - http://www.vodafonebusinessshop.co.uk/USBModem.html - where they’re also offering the USB modem for free on an 18 month contract.

Posted by fatcat on August 1st, 2007

Filed under Pricing | 1 Comment »