HP Mobile Connect is an international mobile broadband service that is integrated into HP business notebooks and tablets.
It works in a similar way to 3G on your mobile – by offering the internet coverage from major providers in certain European countries, kind of like a data bundle – and eliminates the need to connect to a wifi hotspot for coverage.
There are a couple of different payment plans to choose from. The Single-country data plan allows you to roam by using a major mobile broadband carrier network in a particular country – this option is possible in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg.
The Fearless Roaming Plan allows users to connect across ten countries for a pre-paid rate, including Germany, France, Spain, Poland, UK, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
You are not required to set up a contract or a standing order for HP Mobile Connect – you can choose a plan that lasts for the length of a one-off business trip to a particular country or countries, and know what you are paying before you go, as there are no roaming charges.
HP Mobile Connect’s data packages pair set lengths of time with proportionate set amounts of data. According to HP, typical plan use includes sending or receiving up to 1,000 e-mails, browsing up to 400 web pages, uploading up to 50 videos, and streaming a video for 20 minutes.
I tried out HP Connect service on a trip to the Netherlands. I had an allowance of 1GB for the month, which was obviously more than enough for my three-day trip, but I could have opted for three one-day plans for €24, which would have given me 750MB of data (€8 and 250MB per day. I was impressed with its speed at Schiphol airport – it was faster than the free wifi.
When I used the service on a tram in Amsterdam city centre, it also worked well, and the fact that there were no roaming charges slapped on meant I didn’t think twice about whether or not to double check the directions to my hotel.
The Windows 8 software on the Elitepad 900 won’t be for everyone, but I found the tile setup of the interface lent itself to using a tablet better than it does for my HP laptop – using a touchscreen to zip between the desktop and the tiles, and selecting the tiles themselves with my fingertips made the user experience much more intuitive.
And from a business perspective, the being able to use Microsoft software on a tablet is an advantage – you can use Excel, Powerpoint and Microsoft word (whereas on the iPad you have to use compatible apps).
The tablet felt light at 680g, and the battery life lasted about eight hours at a time before needing a charge – sufficient for a day of working on the move.
HP Connects efficiency depends on the 3G or 4G coverage. When travelling by train in the UK, it would cut out at times, particularly when I went through a tunnel, which is to be expected, and would be the same if using a smartphone for browsing. However, there were moments when my 4G iPhone service was loading pages faster than HP Connect.
The Autorotate setting on the Elitepad 900 was rather irritating – every time you leaned the device too far backwards it would go on standby – but this is easily solved by sliding the switch at on the top right hand corner of the tablet to turn it off.
When I connected in the Netherlands, the train journey to Amsterdam was too brief for me to really give it a go, and once I was settled into my hotel, where the free, fast wifi was sufficient, I found I didn’t really connect to it. Then again, I think if you had a long train journey planned, say between two cities, it would be worth getting HP Connect.
Ultimately, the value of HP Mobile Connect depends how much time you will need to spend on the move and working between reliable wifi hotspots, but also whether you will be in a location where local mobile coverage is available, as this is what HP Mobile Connect relies on.
It also depends on whether you would rather know exactly what you are paying for internet use before you travel, or if you would rather see if it’s cheaper without such a plan, but at the risk of racking up roaming charges. Based on the horrendous roaming charges I have experienced in the past, I would consider the plan a worthy investment.
PRICE Elitepad 900 - £656 including VAT for the 64GB version. Click here for a full list of HP Mobile Connect rates.