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TP-LINK TL-MR3040 Portable Battery Powered 3G/3.75G Wireless N Router (White)
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Featuring both a WAN and 3G USB port, the TL-MR3040 is able to utilize both wired and 3G wireless connections to create a powerful wireless network, for use at a hotel, home and on the road. At 150Mbps, the TL-MR3040 has the wireless speed and range to accommodate several bandwidth intensive tasks at once with coverage for an entire average sized room. With connected 3G USB Adaptor or WAN cable, users can enjoy online games, stream media, or participate in a conference call, from the convenience of home, th
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I have no idea how long this product will last, but it does seem to be reasonably well made and does the job.
It's worth knowing that some hotels provide free fixed line/CAT5 internet access. You can connect this router to a CAT5 cable and bingo, you have a wifi hotspot. Of course, the router has the usual privacy/safety features such WEP encryption and MAC address access/blocking, all manageable through a very decent interface accessed via your browser.
Before buying this device, I seriously considered TP Link TL-WR702N 150Mbps Wireless N Nano Router instead. However, the MR3040 is a little more flexible in that it can also be powered by its self-contained (and changeable) 2000mAh Lithium-Ion battery (2000mAh is more power than many smartphones' batteries so is more than enough juice for a day's usage). If you only plan to use the router with a laptop, or somewhere where you always have access to a powered micro-USB cable, you may find the cheaper WR702 more cost effective. However, for me, the added flexibility of this device is worth the extra money as I can create my own hotspot for devices on the move without needing to connect to a power supply or laptop (e.g. on a train). Both devices need you to connect a dongle (or CAT5 cable), so don't forget to budget for the dongle, such as Three Huawei E353 1GB USB Mobile Broadband Modem with Latest Dongle Technology (HSPA+). If you want to use this abroad, or with other networks, you will need to ensure that the dongle is unlocked from the network (some are sold unlocked, others can be unlocked easily in stores or by yourself if you check on the how-tos online).
An alternative approach is to get a mifi all-in-one device such as Three E586 3GB USB MIFI Mobile BroadBand Modem - Black. These are very good devices; I had one on trial from 3 some time ago. However, with a mifi, you are limited to using a 3G SIM and cannot create a wifi hotspot using a CAT5 cable. As above, you will need an unlocked version of the mifi if you want to use different SIMs/take it abroad. In my experience, though the mifi, runs hot after a couple of hours and eats through its battery in about 2-3 hours. The mifi is a smaller device, but the MR3040 is less than 100g itself and 3G dongles are typically little more than 30g. Neither option is going to add considerable weight to your travel bag.
I have run the MR3040 router for a few hours at a time and it doesn't get hot. I haven't come close to running the battery out as yet, so I am sure that it will last long enough for a day's work before needing a recharge or switching to AC/USB power. The reported 4-5 hours battery run-time is entirely feasible.
There are four different modes of operation with this device: 3G Router, Travel Router, WISP Client Router and Wireless Router. This offers additional functionality which you can use to extend wifi coverage into dead spots in your house, for example. And remember, you are getting upto 150mbs N-network.
Finally, if you only occasionally need wifi and so don't want to invest in a 3G data contract, you might be interested in the free browsing SIMs from Samba Mobile, or the very cost effective 30 day / 1GB SIMs from 3 such as 3 Original Broadband Ready to Go 1GB Preloaded Data Sim Card for Mobile Devices, which is £3.95 at the time of writing. Of course, there are always plenty of good offers if you keep an eye out.
For me, this device opens up a host of options for when I travel and commute. Although slightly expensive, it pays for itself pretty quickly. Until there's free wifi everywhere, this is a really useful gadget.
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