Three is currently conducting trials in three locations: Glasgow, Edinburgh and Leeds. It is likely that not all Three base stations has been upgraded to take advantage of HSPA+ technology yet, like where I live just outside North London (more on this later), so do bear that in mind when reading the review.
The Huawei-made Web Cube has been lovingly designed and is both stylish and practical. The case is made of translucent white plastic housing the internal hardware and a couple of blue LEDs on the top (as a signal strength indicator) and glowing inner blue LEDs that doubles as a network status indicator. I am not a fan of blue LEDs, but fortunately the LEDs here aren't too bright to be annoying. The device is heavy enough to be able to store it on a shelf without fear it would fall under the weight of the cable.
While the Web Cube supports and impressive download speed of up to 21.6 Mbit/s, in reality it would be rare for anyone to be able to hit that maximum theoretical speed. Like your home broadband, many factors, such as distance from a cell tower, or how congested the cell tower is, or even the backend support at each base station, will contribute to this loss in speed.
Three MiFi E586. This is about a 3rd of what I normally achieve with my home broadband, so it isn't a bad result. But if achieving the maximum speed is important to you, it is advisable to contact Three UK Support and inquire if your area has received an upgrade. I know of several people who are able to retain a reasonable speed of around 9-11 Mbit/s with Three UK. It is just my luck that I live in an area that has either not been upgraded, or is popular with Three users.
When rolled out nationally, the Web Cube will be available for £15 a month on a rolling contract which gets you 10GB worth of data or £15.99 a month on a 24 month contract, which will net you 15GB of data per month. You can keep tabs on your data usage by navigating to the browser interface (http://3.home). 10GB or 15GB a month might not be enough for serious downloaders but there is a market for university students and anyone who are always on the move (renters) and is probably more than enough for most people. If you are fine with your home broadband but instead need something a bit more portable, may I suggest checking out their flexible Huawei E586 MiFi instead.
The Web Cube to be easy and fast to set up, simple to use and looks great at connecting you to the wider web. But I am struggling to find a target market for the Web Cube beyond the obvious but niche student sector and rental market, at least before the deployment of LTE technology in this country. Still I see a bright future for products like the Web Cube, especially in areas where ISP refuses to invest in, assuming of course OFCOM doesn't screw up any further.
Would the Web Cube be enough to ditch your fixed broadband and the shackles of BT, or will you be waiting for 4G to arrive instead?