Mobile broadband has finally taken off. All the phone stores are full of offers and networks are breathing a massive sigh of relief as they finally reap all their cash back from their multi-billion-pound acquisitions of 3G licenses. But what if you have an existing mobile contract that gives you 3G broadband access? Enter the iCON 401.
Just slot your current SIM card into the stick and you can bring broadband mobile internet to your Mac. If you can get data on your mobile, chances are your SIM will work with the 401, but we really can't stress enough that you'll need to check out the fine print of your data plan to make sure you don't end up with a huge bill.
The 401 is a fine, if expensive, addition to your mobile armoury – and it adds the ability to insert a MicroSD card to save files to it. Additionally, you can plug in an external antenna.
The stick itself is actually made by Option, but distributor Nova Media directs Mac owners to use its own software, launch2net (check for a later version on the website when installing). It's a convenient app to control your net connection and tells you the time you've spent online as well as the amount of data downloaded and uploaded.
The connection to the internet is seamless and the software works far better than many software apps supplied by mobile broadband providers. However, it lacks the simplicity of the latest generation of plug-and-play installation-free sticks.
Our final opinion, however, has to be governed by the price, and we'd recommend this stick only if you definitely need to use an existing SIM card. Plus, if you need to make add-ons to your tariff, it'll be worth doing some sums – the cost of the add-on each month, plus the cost of this stick, may mean you're better off signing up to a mobile broadband deal separately.