Have you ever found yourself stranded in a hotel that only offers a wired internet connection? If you have, you know how frustrating it is to find yourself tethered to a desk. Personally, I’m n a great believer that a my laptop belongs on my lap! I love to sit in a comfy chair with my laptop perched on my knee. It’s worse, if you decided to travel light, and just carried your iPad, iPhone (or your personal favourite non-Apple tablet or smart phone), and you CANNOT connect to the hotels internet without WiFi!
Well, shopping at my local Staples, I found a prefect solution. In among the computer gadgets, I saw a tiny box claiming to contain a WiFi router. Since it was on sale for $19.99, I decided to take a chance. When I got it back to my office, I got a pleasant surprise when I unboxed it. The router nestled in the box was even smaller than expected.
At a bit bigger than 2 x 2 inches, and comfortably less than an inch thick, the TP-Link TL-WR702N wireless N “Nano” portable router is unbelievably small, and surprisingly packed with features. Out of the box, the device is programmed as a wireless access point, just the ticket for connecting it to a hotels wireless connection. You can easily reconfigure the unit to function as a full-blown router with DHCP, as a repeater (to increase the range of an existing wireless network) or as a client bridge to extend a wired network. These are features typically found only in much more expensive devices.
The device is powered via the included micro USB cable. A small USB power adaptor is included, but if you want to travel light, you probably already have a USB adaptor in you kit to charge your phone. Also in the box is a really little flat Cat 5 cable that coils up into a tiny package for easily connection to a wired network.
I was pleased to see that the WiFi security was turned on by default. It’s great to see wireless manufacturers doing this, since in the past, many users plugged these routers in without bothering to read the documentation and turn on security, leaving their home network wide open to shady characters. One criticism I can offer is that the included quick start guide is written in horribly translated english, and you have to read it really carefully to figure out how to set things up. I discovered that a much more complete manual can be downloaded from the TP-Link website. The full manual is still in horribly translated english, but at least it is quite complete, and is easy to follow thanks to the generous number of screen shots.
I hooked the device up to my home network in its default A/P mode, entered the default password on my MacBook (the password is printed on the bottom of the router in really tiny print!), and was immediately connected to the internet. I checked my download speed using the Speed Test website, and found that I had the full speed that I normally get from my internet connection. I also had access to all of the resources on my network, including network drives and printers.
I foresee another use for the router. I frequently give presentations with Keynote, using my iPhone or iPad as a graphical remote control. To do this, your computer and iPhone/iPad have to be connected to the same WiFi network. It is often hard to find an available network, or the available network may have security or other issues that make this utility hard to use. No more! My next presentation, I’m setting up my tiny TP-Link in router mode, and I’ll be good to go. And yes, I have already tested it out, and it works great.