I have been doing a lot of travelling over the last couple of years, and the one thing that has annoyed me (apart from late trains in the UK) has been the hit and miss provision of Internet services in hotels in both the UK and Europe.
I have been asked to pay up to £15 a day for access to broadband in some places, and the free internet that you used to be able to get in the foyers and public areas of hotels now seems to be a thing of the past.
I suppose they are just using every possibility to make money in hard times, but it can work out rather expensive if you travel as much as I have done.
This is why I was so pleased to get my hands on this little gadget. It is a 3G uplink or 'dongle', which gives you a wireless access point for up to 5 devices. Normally I travel with my MacBook, an iPad and an iPhone, and I am happy to report that it works just fine with all the Apple products that I have so far linked to it.
You simply insert the included battery and SIM card, charge up and switch on. After a few moments you will be able to see the device listed under 'WiFi' in your 'settings' or 'system preferences'.
You simply point your device to it, enter the pass-code that comes with it (which you can also get to show on the screen by double clicking the on/off switch) and - hey presto - you are connected to the internet.
As long as you can get a Vodafone signal, you can connect. Obviously, you would need to check that you can get a reliable signal in the places that you want to use it.
The speed is not blistering, but quite acceptable for most purposes. As a test I watched an episode of East Enders on my Mac using the BBC iPlayer, and it ran without a single glitch, so it is going to be plenty powerful enough for my main uses (picking up emails, booking tickets, getting routes, checking weather - the usual holiday requirements).
You can check the data use on the front panel, and also check the battery state and signal strength. Because it is wireless you can, of course, move it around the room to get the best signal. You can also see how many devices are accessing it - so you can check that no-one is hooked up to it in the hotel room next door!
I checked the website and it is also possible to use this device in Europe, so I will test it further on a trip to Rome that I have planned for later in the year.
When you run out of data you simply top it up like a mobile phone - but you can also buy preloaded SIM cards from other network providers and I will be trying that route out as well, as that would be a very inexpensive way of getting a top up abroad.
It comes with 500Mb of data preloaded, which lasts for 60 days, and a top up will currently cost £5 and last for 30 days or 250Mb of data.
In the box -
USB mains plug
USB charging cable
For the money I think it is an excellent piece of kit and I can see that I will be using this as an alternative to rip-off hotel internet prices. The 30 day limit on data is a bit annoying, as I never go away for 30 days at a time so I would almost certainly never use all the data. So, one star off for this. Other than that I am pretty impressed - so far!