T-Mobile is not yet synonymous with 3G connectivity the way Verizon or even AT&T Wireless is, but it’s continuing to push ahead with 3G data offerings. The newest is the WebConnect Jet laptop stick (free with a two-year contract, as of December 14, 2009).
The Jet looks more stylish than T-Mobile’s previous release, the WebConnect USB Stick (both are made for T-Mobile by Huawei Technologies). It has a shiny front panel, with a green blinking status light so you know you’re connected. This stick also has a rubberized back panel, and though it is slightly shorter (0.2 inches) than its slim predecessor, it remains preferable to many of the 3G USB options offered by other carriers.
You get easy access to the SIM card from the back, plus an SDHC Card slot (supports up to 8GB); the adjustable hinge makes the device feel less cumbersome than it could be, too. My one aesthetic complaint: I found the manufacturing label’s positioning on the back of the stick a bit distracting, as it faces inward to the keyboard while I’m typing. I would have preferred a cleaner line.
The Jet can manage your Wi-Fi and mobile broadband connections, and it works internationally via 3G (just beware of the roaming surcharges). The service ($60 for 5GB a month) also gives you access to T-Mobile hotspots via the stick. The device supports 850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz, and UMTS Band IV (AWS) 2100 service, as the original WebConnect does.
T-Mobile’s latest software interface is much cleaner than its earlier version, and it’s more responsive, too–some of the complaints I’d had with the earlier version appear to have been fixed (users of the older stick got the same software via an over-the-air update).
A comparable modem from Verizon Wireless lacks the handy hinge, and the global version costs more. At this writing, the WebConnect Jet is free, which makes it a great deal if T-Mobile’s 3G service is widespread enough for your needs.