5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Works well but pricy for what you get compared to similar devices
, August 7, 2014
This review is from: Buffalo AirStation AC433 Dual Band Wireless Travel Router (WMR-433-BK) (Personal Computers)
This really is tiny. But for me the downside is that there is no built in power, like two other portable wireless routers I have. But for that, you'd have to increase the size and it seems they're going for that "I want it small and unobtrusive" consumer. It has a physical 2.4 or 5 GHz selectable switch. Also actually has a WPS switch, another thing to make life simpler for people who aren't as technical as others. It's also nice that it comes with a more or less non standard IP (192.168.13.x) so that the odds of any conflict with the existing network you're tapping into are minimized. And the WPS switch worked just fine with my Windows 8.1 Thinkpad Yoga tablet.
As others have said, though, the GUI is, well, minimal isn't the right word. I don't know of any word that conveys, "There, but so barely there as to be just about nonexistent." But this is where it all comes down to the target audience. This is my fourth small travel router. Each would fill a different purpose, for a different technical level of the end user, and different actual requirements. The go-to one I use all the time at client sites is my TPLink TL-WR700N. I love that it's just like an Apple power adapter - just a small rectangle with folding outlet prongs that I don't need a USB port to power. That thing has worked flawlessly for me for the last year and a half or more. I also have another portable wireless router that also is a USB charging battery, and the nice thing there is that you can use it even without a USB port to plug it in, since it can use the internal battery to run off of. Then there is my small TPLink one that's a nano size just slightly larger than this Buffalo one, but that I have never used because I just don't like being tied to a USB port for power. And granted, I could use the portable recharging batteries I have in my laptop bag to power it, but I've not been someplace that I needed to create my own wireless network and didn't have a power outlet available. I like the all-in-one things like my larger, 120v TPLink, although it comes with a size penalty.
The other units I have all have various levels of complexity, and that's why I'm not going to ding this a star just because of the bare bones options. I'm glad to see different units of different complexity, since some people need more complex options, but just as many, if not more, really DON'T. They're travelers who just want to plug something into the hotel's LAN port and make their own wireless. And this one really excels at that, since it just works without any configuration in that type of scenario. All they need to do is pick it from their list of available networks and type in the password on the sticker on the unit. It really doesn't get any simpler than that. And as the CTO of a network consulting company, I really LOVE simple for my clients who travel. After dealing with support calls from non technical sales people or executives who have enough trouble just remembering their username or password, I really wouldn't want to have to walk someone through doing some advanced settings on their portable router.
When I fired it up, I connected at 390Mbps with the 5GHz switch set. Moving large files (i.e. > 1TB) to my 2008 server in the basement, I hit about 12MB/s which is about 1/3 or a little less than that of my normal 802.11ac speeds on my Asus wireless unit. But I don't see people using this as their main access point at their home or business, so that really isn't a factor as it's going to usually exceed their internet speeds, which is what most people will be using this for.
Considering that my nano sized TPLink costs about 1/3 of this, though, I can't help but think that there's just too much cost associated with what you get here. The newer AC radio is nice, but even the 802.11 g speeds outstrip the speed of most hotel internet networks when you're traveling. And for the most part, if you're giving a demo or doing some presentation at a company you've traveled to, they're going to provide a wireless or wired solution for you on their site dependent on their infrastructure and / or security policies, so something like this wouldn't be likely to be used in most of those types of circumstances.
The other downside is that I don't remember how long it's been since my traveling took me to a hotel that didn't have wireless already. So this isn't really as critical a device as it would've been some years ago for people traveling. However, for people who are worried about security on public networks like they would be using at a hotel, and don't know what to do or check on their own laptop to verify their privacy, this could be a bit of a pacifier since it will provide some isolation from everyone else's browsing of their resources.
All told it's a nice little unit, it works well, the WPS switch gives someone quick access without even having to type in their wireless key. When I moved to the far side of my house, into my bedroom, which put 3 or 4 walls between me and the unit, the signal strength dropped from 5 bars to two, and the connection speed dropped from 390Mbps to just 84MBps. This compared to my full sized 802.11ac Asus wireless base, which drops no bars from the same location, and maintains the same speed of the connection. So you can clearly see the power difference in this small unit compared to a full sized router, but again, that pretty much fits its designed purpose for traveling, where you just need to get your signal in your hotel room or such. But being tied to a USB port of some sort (either on a computer or a wall wart or a portable battery) just lessens its real value for me. I'd prefer a powered unit that was a bit larger just so there's more flexibility for use. But for someone who's looking for a tiny unit like this that will run off USB power and provides simple, basic wireless access to a wired network, it's a solid contender.
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