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T-Mobile Web'n'walk Card with WLAN: Option GlobeTrotter GT Fusion+ EMEA 3G/EDGE data card

IT PRO went on the road, literally, to put the latest 3G data cards from the four leading UK operators to the test to see how they performed in five major cities and the world's busiest airport.

Step 2: T-Mobile Web'n'walk Card with WLAN: Option GlobeTrotter GT Fusion+ EMEA 3G/EDGE data card
  • Fast, compatible with external PCMCIA adapters
  • Installation is appalling, patchy wireless LAN coverage

The T-Mobile card produced the worst installation experience of all these cards. T-Mobile used to ship the Merlin U530 and have switched to the Fusion GlobeTrotter card. This means that their installation package attempts to install ALL the possible drivers that you might need, in order to provide support for all the cards that they have ever shipped. The result is absolute chaos.

If it found an existing Odyssey card driver it would tell you there was a problem installing the Funk Odyssey driver. You then got an option to stop or proceed without installing the Funk Odyssey drivers. Once installed, if there were any Funk Odyssey drivers or Fusion card drivers on the machine, it just would not find its own card. The only solution was to remove all drivers, uninstall all software and clean the registry. In reality, you could really be looking at deploying a new operating system install to deploy this card successfully.

The software that comes with the T-Mobile card is very tuneable. You can tell it your preferred order of connection, from UMTS to mobile hotspot. You can even choose to connect to competitor wireless LAN hotspots and setup your username and password to make life easy. Like the other cards you can select the applications to run for specific actions and send SMS.

This was the fastest card we tested, reaching its peak in Manchester. However, it had major problems in Heathrow and Birmingham and failed to always locate a wireless LAN hotspot.

The software allows you to determine how you want to search for a connection. This is a bonus for the T-Mobile card because you can ask it to find a hotspot before attempting any other form of network. T-Mobile's deals with a range of hotspot providers should also give you a wider selection of connection options.

Futures
T-Mobile has proven to be very good at targeting specific applications for its products. With the data card there doesn't yet seem to be a "killer" app that T-Mobile has found except business. It hasn't announced any plans to change card or to add Voice over IP to its data card but the way it has setup WLAN deals is in its favour.

This card is field upgradeable to 3.6Mbps and 7.2Mbps as and when T-Mobile begins offering these levels of service.

Conclusion
There is little doubt that this card is dragged down by the appalling installation experience. If T-Mobile can fix the installation problems then there is little to choose between this and the Vodafone card.

The card is supported by Elan Digital Systems in their new U-142 device. This means that users with laptops that do not have a PCMCIA slot can use the card with their computer. This gives it an edge over the new Vodafone card.

Verdict

Good card but needs someone to spend time sorting out the installation.

Windows XP Pro SP1, Windows XP Home SP1, Windows 2000 SP4 128MB RAM 130MB Disk Space

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