Gaming laptops are traditionally full of compromises.
ASUS WL-330N3G 6-in-1 Wireless N Mobile Router
ASUS WL-330N3G 6-in-1 review: A mobile router with plenty of useful functions
- 3G router, hotspot, Ethernet-to-WiFi adapter, relatively easy to use, USB powered, well priced
- Some parts of the interface could be better
The ASUS WL-330N3G is a mobile router with lots of useful functions. Not only can it be used to distribute a 3G broadband connection, it can also act as a hotspot and even as a regular wireless router for a wired Internet connection. It's very versatile and it's also affordable. It's a good tool for any business user's briefcase.
Price$ 70.00 (AUD)
The ASUS WL-330N3G is a pocket-sized 3G router that can be used to distribute an Internet connection using a 3G USB modem. It's perfect for business users who often work on the road and want to share a 3G Internet connection across many devices. But sharing a 3G Internet connection isn't the only thing it can do; it has about five other functions, including the ability to function as a hotspot, as a regular router for your ADSL2+ modem and even as an Ethernet-to-Wi-Fi adapter. It's a versatile little device and it's not too difficult to set up.
The WL-330N3G has a length of 90mm, a width of 38mm and a thickness of 13mm, so it's very small and easy to lose in a laptop bag unless you put it in a side pocket. To use the router, you have to plug it in to a power source. You can do this either by plugging it into one of your laptop's USB ports (a cable is supplied), or by using the router's supplied wall-wart transformer. We prefer the former method as it means there is one less bulky piece of gear to carry in our bag. There is a USB port on the side of the router, which can be used to plug in a 3G USB modem from the likes of Optus, Telstra, Vodafone or another provider, and there is a 10/100 Ethernet port on its end.
Looking for a prepaid mobile broadband solution? Read our reviews of the best prepaid mobile broadband modems on the market.
Before you plug in and share a 3G connection, it's best to change the SSID of the router and enable encryption. The easiest way to do this is by connecting the router to your computer via an Ethernet cable and using the utilities on the supplied CD-ROM, so you'll need a laptop with an optical drive (although you could also configure the router's SSID and encryption through its Web configuration page). Once you've got it set up with the SSID and encryption passphrase of your choice, you can log into it via its Web configuration page (192.168.1.1) and set it up for 3G sharing or hotspot Internet access.
Using 3G Sharing mode, you'll be able to distribute the Internet connection from a 3G USB modem. It's fairly easy to do this: as long as your 3G Internet service is already activated, all you have to do is select the country you are in, and then enter your provider information. It didn't take long at all for us to get online.
Using Hotspot mode you'll be able to log in to another wireless network and share its connection across your devices (be it multiple computers or phones) using your own SSID. When you enter this mode, you are presented with a list of wireless networks that you can connect to, but if it's a long list, the 'connect' button will be hidden from view and you'll have to scroll all the way down the list to find it. It would be nice to have a more visible 'connect' button.
One of our favourite modes of the WL-330N3G is its Ethernet Adapter mode. Using this mode, you essentially turn the WL-330N3G into an Ethernet-to-Wi-Fi adapter. It's very useful for wirelessly connecting devices that only have an Ethernet port. The WL-330N3G can function at an 802.11n speed up to 150Mbps, so it can be used to wirelessly stream music or video in a small home or apartment.
There are three more modes you can use: Universal Repeater mode, Access Point mode and Router mode. The WL-330N3G can function as a repeater for your existing wireless network in a bid to extend its range. In Access Point mode, you can add wireless functionality to an existing wired network, while in Router mode you can connect an ADSL2+ or cable modem directly to the WL-330N3G to share the connection wirelessly.
As you can see, the WL-330N3G is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades device that can come in useful in many networking scenarios. We like its versatility, its small size and its ease of use isn't too bad either. That said, novices to wireless networking may find it a little perplexing, but if you've set up wireless networks before, this device shouldn't present you with any major problems. If you ever get stuck or are unable to access the device to reconfigure it, it's easy to just restore the defaults and start fresh.
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