The high speed HSDPA data cards are getting popular by the day for broadband access on the move. But the biggest limitation of these cards is that they can only be used with just one device (a laptop or computer). And there is no straight forward way to share this connection across multiple machines. Imagine a scenario where you can actually share a data card connection across your phones, iPods, netbooks, PCs, etc. Sounds good?
To facilitate this need, a new breed of WiFi access points have arrived. These points come with one or two USB ports and can take one or two data cards, and instantly share the Internet connection over WiFi. Now any WiFi enabled device can be connected to it for accessing Internet.
These devices come with different functionalities. For instance, there is a device which can get power from a USB data cable, or a car charger or even from the wall socket. You can even use this device to turn your car into a WiFi hotspot. You can carry it in your bag with a battery pack and create a mobile hotspot with high speed bandwidth.
There are models which can take two USB data cards and even aggregate their bandwidth. This means you can get an Internet connection which has speeds of upto 6.2Mbps over WiFi by simply buying two HSDPA data cards.
Some other usage scenarios can be Internet sharing both in a small office or on the go. One can also have a redundant WAN connection for critical usage as two WAN interfaces are present in these routers (the USB data card and conventional WAN). One of the great features of having two WAN interfaces is the fail safe mode; ie if one of the WAN connection fails, the other can pitch in giving uninterrupted wireless connection to users. We tested five such dev ices and here's our analysis.
Besides data sharing and the important fail safe feature, other noticeable features in this neat looking IEEE 802.11n draft based router are three 2dB fixed antennas, dedicated buttons for WPS, 3G, and WLAN, and WiFi multimedia support (WMM-802.11e). For security, SMCWBR14-3GN comes with inbuilt firewalls like SPI and encryption standards like WEP, WPA/WPA2-PSK, and WPS with push button and PIN configuration methods.
To test this device we created an isolated N network by connecting one machine using Ethernet wire and the other wirelessly (using N based USB adapter) to SMCWBR14-3GN. In the first test we checked the throughput using 'Qcheck 3.0' and found out that SMCWBR14-3GN gave an average throughput of 65Mbps using a payload of 1000KB. This result is lower than TENDA 3G611R+ which managed a throughput of 80Mbps. In the other test we transferred 50 MB of data from one machine to other and the time taken to transfer was 14 seconds which is the same as that of TENDA 3G611R+.
Bottomline: The router has good features but is an average performer.
This is the second IEEE 802.11n based router that we tested in this issue. When we compared it with others, the first noticeable feature we found was that it comes with a single antenna. The 3G611R+ is similar to other wireless devices in this story, and comes with a single USB 2.0 port for connecting data cards. For security, the router comes with a WPS button on the back, and supports WPA/WPA2, WEP, 802.1x encryption standards, URL monitoring and MAC and IP based filtering, and protection against known network attacks like SYN Flooding etc.
To test this device we created the same setup as used in testing SMCWBR14-3GN. In our first test, we checked throughput using 'Qcheck 3.0'. The SMCWBR14-3GN gave an average throughput of 80 Mbps using a payload of 1000KB. In the second test we transferred 50 MB of data from one machine to the other. The time taken to transfer the same was 14 seconds.
Bottomline: If performance is your sole criteria then go for this.
This router comes with advanced features. It has a fail safe mode where the user gets an option to select his primary WAN interface (data card or Ethernet) and if the primary connection fails, it automatically switches to secondary mode. The router also enables home automation via SMS as signaling medium and position tracking using a USB-based GPS receiver. One can also turn on/off an Internet connection using SMS commands. The device comes with all security features normally present in a wireless router, like WEP, WPA-PSK, WPA-Enterprise encryption standards, MAC address filters, etc. But the only missing element in this device is support for IEEE 802.11n standard.
To test wireless capability of this device, we created an isolated G network by connecting one machine using Ethernet and the other wirelessly to the FZ-LLC router. In the first test, we checked the throughput using 'Qcheck 3.0', and found that FZ-LLC gave an average throughput of 22 Mbps using a payload of 1000 KB. This result is the lowest among the three G routers we tested in this story. In the other test, we transferred 50 MB data from one machine to the other. The time taken to transfer the same was 35 seconds, the highest among the three.
Bottomline: The product is packed with features for maximum utilization of your data card and can be used across multiple data usage scenarios.
One of the two devices from HAME that we tested in this story. Both devices come with an almost similar set of features. To start with, HM-432R comes in a small form factor with a single LAN and USB port. The wireless router is similar to its twin brother and FZ-LLC, and is based on 802.11g standard which is a bit disappointing. For security, which is critical for a wireless device, HM-432R comes packed with WEP, WPA-PSK, and WPA2-PSK encryption standards, inbuilt firewalls for SPI, DoS attacks, etc.
To test the wireless capability of this device we created the same setup as used in testing FZ-LLC. In the first test, we checked throughput using 'Qcheck 3.0' and found that HM-432R gave an average throughput of 30 Mbps using a payload of 1000 KB. In the second test, we transferred 50 MB of data from one machine to the other. The time taken for this transfer was 21 seconds.
Bottomline: A high performing G-based router that meets the requirements of a smaller group of users.
Among all the devices we tested in this story, this one comes in the smallest form factor and can draw power from a USB port which adds to its utility as a mobile device. The HM-433R, like the other HAME router, comes with a single LAN and USB ports and supports IEEE 802.11g standard. The security features include WEP and WPA encryption standard and built in firewalls to mitigate common attacks from Internet like DoS.
To check the wireless capability of this device, we created the same setup as used in testing FZ-LLC and HM-4332R. In our first test we checked the throughput using 'Qcheck 3.0' and found out that HM-433R gave an average throughput of 30 Mbps using a payload of 1000 KB. The result is exactly the same as that obtained through the HM-432R router. In the other test, we transferred 50 MB data from one machine to the other. The time taken to transfer was 21 seconds, the same as the time taken by the other HAME router.
Bottomline: With the ability to charge this device via USB, the device offers added value to people on the move.