Optus USB Slimline Modem

The Optus USB modem works as advertised, but fluctuations in service and a few software bugs have hampered our experience during testing.


6.6
CNET Rating
5.5
User Rating

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Design
This is getting repetitive. Every time we review a wireless broadband dongle we begin by pointing out the fact that this new modem is actually exactly the same as the last modem we reviewed from one of the competing carriers. It was the same with the last generation of "soap-on-a-rope" styled broadband dongles, and guess what? It's the same story here now: this new Optus USB modem is exactly the same as the modem currently offered by Vodafone and 3 Mobile bundles with their wireless broadband plans.

Aside from the advantage of a slimmer, more attractive design, one of the major differences over the previous generation USB modems is the inclusion of a microSD card reader on the side. So obviously, you will need to buy a microSD card to make use of this feature, but on the upside you won't be restricted to a static capacity, instead you will be able to "hot-swap" these cards.

The Optus wireless modem also comes bundled with a USB extension cable. In a way, using the extension cable defeats the purpose of buying this modem over the previous generation as the new slim design removes the need for a short-wired connection. However, during our review it became obvious that people who intend to move their PC frequently, for example those who schlep their laptops around the house, may want to use the laptop to save the USB connection snapping off after being accidentally bumped.

Performance
If all the available wireless broadband modems are the same then it is surely the network performance that separates them. The trouble is that this is such a contentious feature to test, as there are dozens of variables that could negatively impact performance.

In an effort to be as thorough as time would permit, we took the Optus USB modem on a short road trip around a selection of Sydney suburbs. Beginning in the CBD we drove into the Inner West and then out to the beach at Bondi, stopping roadside to perform speed tests. We then headed north, across the Harbour Bridge to Naremburn where we had heard reports of poor Optus network reception using last generation's USB broadband modem.

All in all the modem performed well, but not exceptionally. We saw wide fluctuations in the results of each test, the slowest result being 100Kbps in Naremburn and the fastest being 2Mbps in the city. However, we also saw speeds spike to 1.6Mbps in Naremburn within a 10-minute period of testing in the area, showing us the inconsistency that Optus customers experience.

The user interface is simple to navigate and displays all the important information like strength of the network signal and the amount of data transferred. Users can also send SMS messages from this window and view contacts stored on the SIM card.

Installation of the Optus software is as easy as can be, with the necessary drivers and programs automatically installing from the USB thumb-drive. We did encounter a small problem on one system that had McAfee antivirus software installed, which didn't automatically give internet traffic permission to the Optus software and blocked inbound traffic at the firewall. This is an easy problem to fix, we simply opened the McAfee software and added the Optus executable file to the current list of software with permission, but it may be something to watch for if you don't immediately connect to the Web.

We also encountered a few hiccups with our connection during the tests and received messages informing us that we had run out of credit when we knew we had nearly 2GB of data remaining. The short-term fix was to reset the software and to remove and re-insert the modem into the USB port, but hopefully Optus smooths out the bugs at the back-end before this sort of issue affects too many people.

Before making a purchasing decision check out the Optus 3G coverage maps to make sure your area receives a strong 3G signal.



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Fred
1
Rating
 

Fred posted a review   

The Good:Easy to Install

The Bad:Unreliable

The first few days I got this thing the connection seemed alright with occasional dropouts but after a week the internet has just been abysmally difficult to connect to. The internet drops out every 15 seconds and is very slow. However if you're intending to do abit of light browsing this thing may suit you.

Cole
3
Rating
 

Cole posted a review   

The Good:Easy Setup.

The Bad:Very Slow and Unreliable Signal Strenghs even in the 'Strong 3G' Areas.

I want my Money Back!

eric
1
Rating
 

eric posted a review   

The Good:nothing is good ..optus is a ripper

The Bad:my usb internet even can't connect to the internet

guysd optus isd a ripper. we should start potest. ban optus in australia. i recharge 130 dollar worth credit.
now i can't use it. error message i am getting is u should register before u can use??? i been using it until day before yesterday.

i called the customer care and they don't know what is going on..when i ask ..why i can't get on line..they say i am sorry can't talk about about it coz it.Confidential. Optus Ceo..If u Can't deliver the service we paid for you. then. u don't u should..close..The tenical people .even don't know what the hell is going on..and i am in 3g zone. Optus Ceo Get the hell out of my cvountry. we don't need a ripper...So called your call centre in India they even can't speak english properly..U eaduacated IDIOT.

Simmy

 

Pops posted a comment   

The Good:Not much

The Bad:Slow slow slow

Very disappointed in the performance!!!!!FAD4E4

 

no fn net posted a comment   

The Good:crap crap crap

The Bad:really crap

dont buy this its really bad especially their over the phone run around saying they will fix the problem which never eventuates (4 phone calls)now 3 months on still not working.so i paided for something that doesnt work and i think they know this but wont admitt it. now they tell me to try gsm a speed slower than dial up why do i bother.Telstra are rouges give you bugga all gig for insane price, telecom bosses must be rubbing their hands together cos they got you by the balls.

 

smallcombe posted a comment   

The Good:easy to chuck againts the wall!

The Bad:everything, speed, connection and more

don't buy this. i have ben using it for about 5 months now and it only gets worse. i can't even connect to the net now. i connect then is disconects after 5 secs, sadly just spent 50 bux on creadit for 3 gigs and can't even use it. my friend went TPG adsl 2 his speed is ALWAYS 2.5 mb per sec. and it cost him 48 bux a month for 50 gig!!!! and he hasn't had anyproblems with it. not only his his faster and he can trust it the customer service from TPG is great! not like optus. don't buy this save ya self the $$$ and if ya stuck like me and can't get into net deals then sadly there's no hope.

TanMan
8
Rating
 

TanMan posted a review   

The Good:Slimline, convenient, reasonable speed

The Bad:Pricing???

The unit was easy to install. No problem. I have used it in (Victoria) Carlton, St. Kilda and Canterbury and haven't had the drop out issues I see in other reports. This even in Canterbury where my mobile signal is reasonably weak. On pricing I am not sure as to what the true monthly cost is yet. It would be great to get some comparison as to normal usage with a wireless system at home vs the portable USB.I think someone else mentioned getting an Optus "bundle" is cheaper. Moving to Balwyn in 5 months....so I will be looking out for the black spot!

 

Cookiemonster posted a comment   

The Good:none totally useless

The Bad:DONT BUY IT !!!

I have had the slimline modem for 5 months and dropouts are common about every 45 seconds have purchased an external antenna to boost signal at $30.00 still no good no difference at all. I have contact the help desk on many occasions to sort the issue get the run around everytime. Today they ask me to acquire a new sim this also cost me $30 first connect dropped out after 1 min 50 secs. DONT BUY IT YOUR WASTING YOUR MONEY !!!

elephant thru a straw
10
Rating
 

elephant thru a straw posted a review   

The Good:theoretically heaps

The Bad:really really really really slow speeds...even with good reception in a capital city

Optus should not be allowed to advertise their wireless broadband USB modem as anything other than an experimental product. 5% of the time it provides reasonably good internet access. But for the other 95%, it is either sub-standard or just plain useless. How many other railers could get away with selling you a product which only operated at an acceptable level 5% of the time? The technology just isn't good enough yet (as I write this the Optus connection dropped out!). Don't waste your money or time with this product. It's an absolute turkey. Either go for landline, or if you're unwilling to commit to a lengthy inflexible contract, just stick with clay tablets and a carrier-pigeon.

 

MichaelI2 posted a reply   

Yes I agree been trying to connect all day since 7 am this morning
and its finally working,its now 7-30pm a good 12 and a half hours
later,and that's not acceptable.
Have been thinking of switching to Telstra they could not be worse than Optus.

dg1010
1
Rating
 

dg1010 posted a review   

In Port Macquarie average speed most of the time is between 5kbps and 10kbps. Absolutely hopeless and false advertising in regard to speed by Optus.


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User Reviews / Comments  Optus USB Slimline Modem

  • Fred

    Fred

    Rating1

    "The first few days I got this thing the connection seemed alright with occasional dropouts but after a week the internet has just been abysmally difficult to connect to. The internet drops out ever..."

  • Cole

    Cole

    Rating3

    "I want my Money Back!"

  • eric

    eric

    Rating1

    "guysd optus isd a ripper. we should start potest. ban optus in australia. i recharge 130 dollar worth credit.
    now i can't use it. error message i am getting is u should register before u can..."

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