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By Mike Joubert 2 February 2010

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There's no love lost between us and our MTN Huawei E220 modem – the 3G modem we often resort to when on the go. Much of the time it just won’t recognise SIM cards, and it has managed to produce the blue screen of death on more than one occasion when the modem was pulled out while the software was still running. Of course we can complain about MTN’s (or Vodacom’s for that matter) crazy data charges as well, but that’s another story.

We recently reviewed the U9-T HSUPA GSM Modem and found it to be a good replacement, proving more reliable and offering better throughput rates. It’s a 3G USB modem that resembles a rather large USB flash drive. Slide in your SIM and connect the device to your PC. The installation will take place immediately, and all you need to do is select your network from the provided list (MTN and Vodacom were there), connect and the internet is your playground.
 
Usage tracking

Once connected usage is tracked per session via a handy application that is loaded during device setup. The software also keeps tabs on your previous month’s usage, which comes in handy to see if you had data left that carried over. A simple but useful feature that we enjoyed was the ability to enter the amount of data you have available and set two warning points, alerting you if you start reaching your limit. Of course you can also send and receive SMSes while working.
 
MicroSD

A microSD card port on the side of the device means the U9-T can also be used as a flashdisk, but if you want to use it on another PC you will be bothered by the U9-T’s auto run setup wizard. You don’t have to install the software however, to make use of the flash memory. For some reason the modem often refused to connect on the first try, but always managed it on the second.
 
Connection Speed

Running internet connection speed tests at www.speedtest.net, the U9-T on the MTN network achieved an average download speed of 3.29 Mbps, and upload speed of 1.05 Mbps (the Huawei E220 modem had 2.55 Mbps down and 0.33 Mbps up).
 
At R895 the U9-T modem is a solid choice if you’re looking to connect via 3G, and it’s also a solution if you don’t want to be bound to a data contract which includes a modem. The U9-T is available from Otto Marketing on 011-791-1033 or www.otto.co.za.
PROS
Data usage warning points, microSD slot.
CONS
Automatic setup wizard runs even if you just want to use the flash memory.
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