Published: October 14, 2010
I am thrilled as I am pained to review Smart Broadband Plug-It (SmartBro Plug-It) as I have been using it for more than a year already. This is my honest review of the product and it could be subjective since I am basing it on my own experience. I would like to cover almost all of the aspects of this product for others to know; this is an honest to goodness review and I am not paid to write about this one.
What can you get from this review?
Information. That’s all I want to partake to all SmartBro subscribers or those who are planning to get one. But we have to remember that we are in the country that is so far behind when it comes to technological innovations. Thus, you cannot expect Philippines to have a stable internet connection like the US. Besides, our country is an archipelago and we prefer cellular technology rather than cable.
I am reviewing this product as a SmartBro Plut-It subscriber. I may not dwell much on technicalities which most of the Internet users couldn’t understand.
SmartBro Plug-It: the Good
- Moderate Design – personally, I like the black and orange color combination used in the latest SmartBro Plug-It USB modem. For those who haven’t seen it yet, the USB modem is colored black with thin orange lining.
- Neat and Easy Interface – you have to install the application which comes with the USB modem to be able to use it. And I just like how they made the interface easy to navigate and professional.
- Micro SD Slot – there is a micro SD slot you can use at the side of the USB modem; it adds to the functionality of the device.
- Portability – you can bring your modem with you wherever, whenever. The point is, as long as you have prepaid load (Prepaid users) you can always have an internet connection as long as you are in the area covered by any Base Transceiver Station (BTS) or cell site.
- Stable and Easy to Use - of all SmartBro plans, Plug-It is the most stable and easy-to-use. You can use it right after you have installed the software. As long as you have a good USB port to insert the modem to as well as a good signal from Smart BTS, then you’re good to go.
SmartBro Plug-It: the Bad
- Download Speed – Smart advertisements have always been boasting about how fast the download speed of their Plug-It is. The truth is, the actual download speed is so slow that it’s not even close to what they are saying in their advertisements. SmartBro Plug-It has a BURSTABLE SPEED of up to 2 MEGA BITS per second. What I am getting under HSDPA signal is just 200 Kilo Bits per second or less.
- Upload Speed – it’s stupid to have an upload speed as slow as 50 kbps considering the fact that SmartBro’s counterpart offers 150 kbps. When you are attaching a document to your email, it will take time to send it because the upload speed is really slow and oftentimes connection will be reset.
- Network Congestion – Smart has been so successful in acquiring too many subscribers but they have forgotten to upgrade their equipment. That is why, if you are a SmartBro subscriber, you will always encounter having NO or SLOW connection. The Base Station (cell site) where I am in has a maximum capacity of 7 mbps only. This will be divided among hundreds or even thousands of subscribers. And Smart still has the audacity of telling people that their SmartBro Plug-It will reach up to 2 mbps. Well, you do the math.
- Easy to Overheat – if you use SmartBro Plug-It even for just an hour, you will notice that it is just too hot for an electronic device especially if you are under a 3G network.
- Customer Service – I will not say this because Smart’s customer service agents are useless but because Smart made them so. They don’t have enough tools to be able to troubleshoot with the customer especially if the subscriber is under 2G network. Although there are agents who do not know what they are doing and are incompetent, still it is the responsibility of Smart to provide superb customer service. So, if you don’t have connection and you’re calling the hotline, do not expect that your concern will be addressed properly and that you will regain your connection after the call; you will just be advised to monitor your connection within 24 hours. The day after that, call the hotline back and you will be advised the same thing. I have some friends working as SmartBro Technical Service Representatives; in fairness to them, they are all good people and this review is not written to embarrass them.
SmartBro Plug-It: the Ugly
- The Price – way back 5 months ago SmartBro Plug-It kit was just P995, now it’s P1495. I think it’s just not worth it considering the fact that it’s not really that good when it comes to connection speed.
- The Lock-in Period – if you want to apply for SmartBro Plug-It Plan 999, think twice. You have to consider that you will be having problems for 24 months. Yes, the lock-in period is 24 months for SmartBro Plug-It Postpaid.
- 3G Network Coverage – only the base stations or cell sites within major cities have 3G-capability. If you are is a NOT so distant municipality, you will have 2G or GPRS connection and that SmartBro agents cannot help you when you are having problems with your connection.
- Slow-Action Customer Service – if you call the hotline, you will be put on hold for 4 minutes or more and once the agent comes back, he/she will just tell you to monitor your connection for 24 hours because he/she has already created a report about your concern. Thus, you cannot have a resolution by the time you are calling. After 24 hours, you will be advised (AGAIN) to monitor your connection for 24 hours because a report has already been submitted and the agent will just have to make follow-up reports.
So far, those are the things I have personally experienced with SmartBro Plug-It. Now, they are offering a new product, an upgrade to their technology. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend SmartBro to my friends unless they will upgrade their equipment such as putting 3G signal to all their cell sites.
If you are planning to get one, call the hotline first and ask if your place has 3G signal. If not, then look for another ISP. I believe that Globe, the strongest counterpart of Smart, is upgrading most of their cell sites to 3G network. In a place where Smart Communications and Sun Cellular offer 2G connection, Globe does offer 3G. Please check further information you may need below;
SmartBro Plug-It Kit
Speed: UP TO 2 mbps (that’s what Smart is claiming)
Corporate Website: http://www.smart.com.ph/smartbro
Fan Page: Smart Communications
Hotline: *1888 (you need to use Smart number) when you hear the recording, press 44 to directly connect you to a representative.
Rating: 3 out of 5 (5 is the highest)