This should be a familiar scenario to anyone who frequently travels with a tablet: the place you're visiting has Internet access but no WiFi.No matter whether it's an office or your in-laws, it's still frustrating.
That why road warriors need a travel router like the the one offered by StarTech.com, which can turn Ethernet into your own personal wireless network. This handy little accessory was designed specifically to work with your iPad. It is usable with other tablets, too, but not as conveniently.
Build and Design
Small size is important with mobile devices, and at 2.2 x 1.9 x 1.4 inches and 12 oz., this router delivers.
[click to view image]It has been designed to fit directly over the iPad power adapter, so no cord is necessary. Obviously, users of other tablets (and the iPhone) will need to use the included power cord.
There's a USB charge port on the front, so the mobile router can be running while a tablet, phone or other device is also drawing power. This is handy, as this accessory takes up both ports of a standard wall socket.
There's no power switch, but there are a pair of LEDs to indicate that power and data are flowing.
Despite its tiny size, in our testing the StarTech.com Wireless Travel Router offered performance essentially identical to a full-size router from a well-known brand. Benchmarks with Ookla Speedtest and an iPad Air came in nearly identical, whether the tablet was within a few feet if the two routers or about 100 feet away.
Many rival travel modems can't say the same -- there is often a very significant slow-down.
For those who want to know the technical details, it supports 802.11 b/g/n, 802.3, and 802.3u.
Setting up this accessory is simple, but not necessarily straightforward, as the instructions aren't always as clear as they could be. Therefore it is recommended that users try out this accessory on a network they are familiar with before they take it on the road.
[click to view image]Those who are happy with the default settings can simply plug the travel router into power and the Ethernet cable, use the Wi-Fi settings to connect to their version of "ComWi_xxxxx", and they're in business.
However, the default uses no security. To turn this on, users should connect to the travel router, open a web browser, and type in http://10.10.10.1/ to open the built-in Settings app. From there, go to Security (in the left-hand navigation bar), and then choose a level of encryption -- at least WPA2 is recommended. Create a password and apply changes.
Those who would like to have a better SSID than "ComWi_xxxxx" can go to Basic Settings and change it there.
This travel router offers a number of other advanced features, but these aren't for beginners.
Those who have run into a situation where they can't connect at a hotel's or office's wired network will see the value of a mobile router, and iPad users will be pleased by design and excellent performance of the StarTech.com Wireless Travel Router.
It can be purchased from the StarTech.com website for $67.