Vodafone's latest USB mobile broadband modem offers plug-and-play operation for Windows and Mac computers. The Vodafone K3571-Z USB stick works as advertised but lacks any nifty extra features and it only supports download speeds of up to 3.2 megabits per second (Mbps).
The Vodafone K3571-Z finished in a reasonably attractive, lightweight, white plastic. The K3571-Z USB stick is as basic as they come; it lacks a microSD card slot that would allow it to double as a portable flash drive, and it also doesn't have a rotating USB connector to reduce the risk of bumping it when connected to your notebook. It also lacks an external antenna port, a feature seen on some Telstra mobile broadband modems.
While the modem is relatively slim, it still prevented access to the second USB port on our 13in MacBook Pro. On larger notebooks this shouldn't be a problem though and is more of a fault on Apple's part than ZTE, the manufacturer of the K3571-Z. Once plugged in, a single LED on the modem notifies you of data status.
The software required to use the Vodafone mobile broadband service is stored on the modem itself and is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X computers. The software is easy to install and allows you to quickly access your prepaid account details and see sent and received data. The software also provides links to Vodafone's Web site, where you can manage your account and check your current balance.
The Vodafone K3571-Z USB stick has a maximum download speed of 3.6Mbps and a maximum upload speed of 1.3Mbps, which is slower than the older Vodafone Mobile Connect USB Internet Stick. Vodafone claims the K3571-Z will provide typical real-world speeds of between 550 kilobits per second (Kbps) and 2Mbps, but as with all mobile broadband devices the actual speed achieved will depend on a number of factors such as your location and equipment, network usage and coverage, and network congestion at the time.
Using our Broadband Speed Test, the K3571-Z USB modem managed to achieve download speeds of up to 3Mbps, but regularly downloaded at around 1.8Mbps. Upload speeds were stable at around 600Kbps, but did occasionally rise over 1Mbps.