Traditionally holidays are a time when you switch off and relax - but if you're anything like me, then you'll find the idea of staying away from the internet a notion as bewilderingly old fashioned as riding a penny-farthing or colonialism. The trouble is, if you go abroad then there's an immediate problem: extortionate data rates, and networks willing to relentlessly rip you off. Luckily though - GoodSpeed might have just solved this problem.
In a world where O2 give users a meagre 15mb/day when in Europe, the dream of using your phone as though you were in Britain - completing with uploading pictures to Facebook, tweeting and checking your emails - seems like a distant one. But what GoodSpeed have done is subvert the network bigwigs entirely.
GoodSpeed is a small, phone-sized device that will connect to local phone networks in tonnes of different countries - and will then create a secure mobile hotspot, which your phone, tablet or any other wifi device can connect to and access the web - brilliant! And I'm pleased to report, having spent the last three weeks in Canada, it worked like a charm.
When ordering the GoodSpeed, you need to order a SIM card for each country you'll be going to - though it has ten SIM card slots, so if you're going on a world tour, you can load up plenty of SIM cards in time. Then once received, it's simply a case of activating your GoodSpeed online and powering on.
After a few minutes spent registering on the local phone network (which might take slightly longer first time around), you'll see "3G" flicker to life on the screen and you're good to go. From here it is simply a case of searching for the GoodSpeed hotspot on your phone and connecting to the network using the password displayed on the device's screen. You'll then have a big fat 500mb to use every single day.
Using the GoodSpeed
Essentially, it just works. And it'll work almost everywhere you'd want to go. Here's a map of their coverage:
Solid orange countries are all directly supported, and lighter orange countries are supported via partner companies - together, they cover a heck of a lot of places.
Brilliantly, GS supports up to five devices simultaneously too - so you can share the connective joy with your travel companions: just be careful not to go on a power trip with your new found ability to switch off your friends' internet access at the touch of a button.
Helpfully, there's a button on the side of the device to toggle what is displayed on the screen - and you can cycle it to see how much data you've used so far that day. But to put how useful the GS is into perspective... I never really had to check this and worry about how much data I was using once.
Battery-wise things are decent too - there's a 2550mAh battery inside. Which is about the same as any modern smartphone, so you'll get about a day of usage out of it before having to recharge. This is particularly good, as it means you can leave the device switched on and in your pocket, and function as you would anywhere else with data - seamless. Helpfully too, the GS also charges over the now standard micro-USB standard - so no need for carrying around a specific charger.
The broad takeaway point here though is that it simply works great - and provides an invisible connection between your phone, the device and the wider internet - so you can stay connected from the middle of a frozen lake in Canada, just as easily as you would from a warm cafe in central London. It's brilliant.
So what's the damage? With great power, comes great financial responsibility - and the price is really the only sticking point. GS have come up with a relatively complex pricing structure - as you can see from above.
On the pro-package, for example, you pay at three points: for the device itself (€239), then a monthly fee (€9.90/month), and then for every day you use it abroad, a daily usage fee - which in most countries is €5.90, but with some going as high as €9.90 (typically for the more 'exotic' destinations).
Whilst this can certainly sound quite pricey, it certainly scales better than most travel deals offered by UK networks (500mb every day!), and because the Goodspeed works with up to five devices, it is conceivably possible that you could split the costs with four other travel companions - rather than all get ripped off by roaming charges individually.
So is it worth it? For frequent travellers, it is a must by - and for casual travellers, then it is still worth considering. I can vouch for GS during my three weeks in Canada - it worked great and meant I was never too far away from being able to sarcastically tweet my political opinions, which is exactly how I like to be.
More broadly too, the device is a great innovation as it is helping to break the tyranny of the phone networks. By providing a means to subvert the ludicrous roaming fees that they charge, this can only be a good thing as it will provide competition, and hopefully force down international fees across the board. Very Good Speed indeed.