Orange Mobile Broadband costs £15 a month for up to 3GB. You have to sign up for 18 months. A 12-month contract costs £29 a month, with no data limit.

Sign up for two years of 3GB at £25 a month, and Orange will throw in an Asus Eee PC 900. If mobile broadband and the Eee PC appeals, this represents good value. Remove the £15 a month for mobile broadband, and you pay £240, interest free, for a £299 laptop.

The ICON 225 modem is a chunky USB stick. A cable is provided for tight spaces. Our test sample came pre-registered but, according to the Quick Start guide, consumers must call Orange to register their dongle - irritating, to say the least.

The requisite software downloads and installs with the minimum of fuss. The resulting Orange interface is simplicity itself. You can create a password and set 3G/GPRS preferences, but for most users interaction with their dongle will start and end with hitting 'connect'.

There's an SMS Centre for sending text messages from your PC - make sure you don't go over your data limit, however. Out of bundle, it costs £1.46 per megabyte.

The ICON 225 features two LED indicators that display its status, and highlight problems. A five-bar HSDPA guage on the software interface offers further info.

Orange claims almost total 3G coverage on the British mainland, and in London we found the connection zippy enough. As ever, check the connection in your location before you buy.

OUR VERDICT

It's not the cheapest, but Orange Mobile Broadband is a solid contender. The modem is easy to set up and use, and the coverage comprehensive.