Top critical review
8 people found this helpful
Nice Travel Router- But I wish it would accept 220v
on June 4, 2011
This is a nice little router. In the past I've traveled with a spare wireless router, and the entire carrying case (containing the router, AC adapter, USB cable and networking cable) is about the size as just my spare (non-travel) wireless router. The router itself is tiny. It has roughly the same footprint as a credit card, and is about 0.5" thick. The carrying case is much bigger- 6"x4.5"x2". It seems like Trendnet should have been able to make the complete package smaller by combining the AC adapter and the router into one unit (like the Airport Express) and also by making the case out of thinner material. The case is very well padded. That's good if you plan on dropping it, but otherwise its just a waste of space.
Before I purchased the router I read some reviews that said it didn't work with the iPad. So, the first thing I did when I got the router was to update its firmware. After doing so I was able to do all other configuration steps from my iPad.
This router has some nice features. It has three modes: Access Point, Client, and Router. You select the mode using a switch on the bottom. In general, the router mode is probably what you'll want to use. In router mode all the devices you have connecting to the router will look like one device to whatever it is connecting to (e.g., the hotel's wired network). There's probably little reason to use AP mode unless you know what you're doing. Its hard to think of a situation on travel where you'd want to use AP mode. There's also client mode. This also probably has limited benefit for most users. It lets you connect a device that only has wired ethernet to a wireless network. That's not very useful if you just travel with laptops and tablets, but maybe there's someone out there that travels with a game console (although most of those now have built-in wireless too). I was surprised to find out the router also has a client+AP mode, although I haven't come up with a situation where it would be useful. Still, I'm happy that Trendnet tried to maximize the features on this thing.
The modes are mostly separate. That is, if you change the administrative password in one mode (which you should do, by the way), it won't change in the other modes. If you set up the wireless network in AP mode it won't carry over to router mode. The latter is probably good, but I wish the admin password carried over between modes.
The wireless range isn't nearly as good as a regular Wifi router, but you wouldn't/shouldn't expect it to be. Its more than enough to cover a hotel room, and that's probably the primary use case.
My biggest problem with the router is that the router's power supply will not accept 220v, meaning you can't use it overseas with just a simple adapter. If you want to use it overseas you basically have 2 choices: use the included power supply with a bulky voltage converter, or you could power it over USB from a computer or a USB travel charger that accepts 220v. I plan on the latter, since voltage converters are big and heavy.
A possible third option is to find a compatible 5v AC adapter that will accept 220v. I'm going to try to find one, and if I do I'll try to remember to update this review.
I find it pretty unacceptable that Trendnet didn't include a 220v-capable AC adapter. I can't imagine it would have increased the price by a non-trivial amount, and its a pretty important feature for a travel router. Hopefully that fix that mistake. They don't even need to wait until the next product- they just need to include a slightly better AC adapter.
Still, this is a nice little router. It's hard to argue with the price- at half the price of an airport express its definitely a good deal. Still, if you travel overseas a lot it might be worth it to spend the extra $50 on the Airport Express to get something that natively supports 220v.
Between the bulkier-than-necessary size, the need for a firmware update out of the box for iPad compatibility, and the lack of support for 220v, I'm going to give this 3 out of 5 stars. But, I knew all those things going in, and I still bought it, so I don't consider any of those deal-breakers, but certainly they are things you should keep in mind when you're choosing a travel router.