While routers have never been essential, most people will have at least one in their house, especially with the rapid increase of wireless devices such as laptops, phones, tablets and lots more. Routers allow you to connect to several computers wirelessly or even via ethernet connections, allowing you to create a network with more than one computer. Lots of companies like Virgin Media and other ISPs provide routers with their broadband packages and as such some are installed and never seen again. While this is the simplest solution there are lots of improvements that can be made to a network, for instance, improving wireless coverage, which is where a second router or wireless bridge comes in handy.
ASUS have a very high reputation within the computing industry, especially with regards to motherboards. They do also produce netbooks, displays and various other computer peripherals, and they have been dabbling in networks for a while but without much notable success. We hope that they have with this device put their expertise to good use and have produced a good networking product, as we certainly know that they are capable of this.
The router we are looking at today combines 6 key features, including Access Point, Network Adapter, Wireless Router, Wireless Repeater and a Wi-Fi and 3G device that can share connections between several devices. This is certainly a lot of features, but we have often found this means it is less likely to work, or at least well.
The router is also classed as a Mobile Router, one of the first ever, with a footprint that is smaller than a credit card which should make it very easy to carry as it is pocket sized. They claim it is a full wireless router designed for those on the move, especially businessmen, commuters, students and mobile professionals.
ASUS have chosen a simple design for their packaging but it does emphasise many of the key features, including the Hotspot WiFi Signal Sharing and an impressive claim of 300 m² coverage provided by this router. From the front it allows you to see the size of the router which compared to all other routers currently on the market is truly tiny.
The back of the box shows us the 6 key features of this Mobile Router and some interesting diagrams to try and show you exactly how this works, although
The right-hand side of the box lists the specifications of the router. Once opening up the packaging we find a few extras, including a User Guide and a Support Utility CD.
Also included is a fairly small travel case, just perfect to hold the router and a few of the necessary cables.
Talking of cables, ASUS have provided us with a good collection. This includes 3 different ways of powering the device.
The product itself is tiny, and takes up less space than most USB hubs, for instance.We can see it has indicator lights for 3G, Network, Wireless and Power, as well as a WPS button.
From the bottom side we find a socket for one of the more useful features, which is of course a USB port. This enables you to plug-in any USB 3G dongle and to share this connection with other people.
The next important side is the one that allows you to plug in a full-sized ethernet cable, surprising for something so small. It also has a micro-USB power port.
On the back of the product is a nice grill to dissipate heat as well as a reset switch.
Taking a closer look at the collection of cables provided, we find they have decided to include a Car Charger, which is rare for most devices so clearly ASUS are making it as easy as possible to use this router while on the move.
They have also included a network cable, but this expected with any router.
Another way to power this device is via 1/2 USB ports (requires 2 unless using a powered USB hub). This is obviously brilliant for using with a laptop ang gives you good flexibility.
ASUS have also provided a mains powered cable, in this case with a two-pin plug.
The router, like all others, has a webpage or intranet site that allows you to alter the settings of the router. This can be accessed via the IP address, although ASUS do provide the software on the CD to set-up the basics and to find the router if you do not know the IP address. The most commonly used feature is likely to be the standard ‘wireless router’ which allows you to connect to a modem through a network cable and allows you to set-up a wireless network.
The router can also be used as an Access Point to connect to an already set-up router either by wireless or through a network cable, allowing you to connect one or more computers wirelessly and/or wired.
One of the more special features of the WL-330N3G router is that it can be used as a repeater, which means it can connect to a wireless network and then extends the wireless coverage, as it transmits under the same channel and ID as the original signal. This is brilliant for the larger house, as you can easily boost the signal without having to have a wired infrastructure.
Lots of modern technology requires internet connections, for instance, Smart TV’s, Games Consoles, and lots more. While you may already have the wired infrastructure within your house, it is a lot easier if you can connect the device to the wireless network wherever it is in the house. This ASUS router can act as a wireless adapter or bridge allowing you to effectively create a wired ethernet port wherever you want it within the house.
One of the more common features is Wi-Fi sharing, which does work in a similar way to the Access Point mode, in which it connects to another network, in this case a Wi-Fi Hotspot (at a Hotel, Airport, School etc) that requires authorisation or even payment, and then allows you to share this signal with as many devices as you like. As this device is so small it makes it perfect for taking on holiday with you so that the whole family can, for instance share one Hotel Wi-Fi account.
While the other 5 features are all very useful, the key feature of the ASUS WL-330N3G Router is that it has a USB port allowing for a 3G dongle to be attached, while there are other routers on the market that do this, there are none that are quite as portable as this device. With a 3G dongle this router will allow you to have a truly mobile router, that has a tiny footprint and can give you the wireless internet you so desire.
The final page allows you to adjust some of the more advanced settings of this router. We were impressed with how easy it is to set-up this router for the 6 modes, although the options on each are limited, it is really a user-friendly interface making it perfect for everyone.
In terms of performance we were really quite impressed with this little device. Firstly, its size is truly remarkable, and we love that they have had to make the device thicker on one side to incorporate a standard sized ethernet socket. This device and cables can easily be fitted in your back pocket and so you really can take it where you want, and with a car charger included this is a perfect device for sharing a 3G connection in the car, at school or any other place without a wired infrastructure.
As the router has many other modes, it can be used in the more everyday situations that you would of expect of a router, and not only does it do this well it is unbelievably easy to set-up and configure. On top of this, it has a few extra quirks like the repeater mode which is brilliant for those student houses that are spread over 2 or more floors and who require a good wireless connection all over the house and as it makes itself effectively invisible you just connect to the original wireless router and benefit immediately from improved signal strength and even in places, improved speeds.
In terms of data transfer rates, we were not expecting this router to be that impressive, after all it is the size of a credit card, and can be powered by a USB port. That said, it is still a N150 router, and credit where credit is due, the data connection speeds were pleasantly close to the 150 mbps mark, in fact it managed to provide adequate coverage over several rooms of my house, and although it is no where near as good as our Buffalo High Powered Dual Band Router it was certainly a lot better than we expected. The quoted coverage is 300m² and quite frankly this is a lot, although of course in a normal house environment this dramatically decrease with walls and other obstacles in the way, but if you were to use this in a conference environment for instance you would find it easily provides coverage for a fairly large room and the speeds at the extremities will be still fairly decent – for instance, we found that speeds were still well over 20 mpbs at a distance of 15m going through 2 fairly substantial walls, and while 20 mbps is a lot less than 150 mbps this is still an impressive result.
We did unfortunately find that during Repeater mode, it did seem to slow down the connection speed was reduced when it was turned on and the wireless device was nearer to the original source. However, when in the area near to the repeater we found that the speeds were improved, so if you have a few wireless dead spots this is the perfect device to extend the signal into these areas.
Turning to the software, we can’t really fault its simplicity, especially when it has enough advanced options so that you can set everything up just right, but at the same time can easily re-configure the device for a new network and set-up if you want to take it with you on holiday for instance. There could, of course, be more options on the set-up pages, but we feel that networks can become overwhelmingly complicated and a device that can be set-up in a matter of a minutes is certainly more favourable.
ASUS have also though to include a carry bag and even a car charger, as well as 2 other means of powering the device and so we really can’t fault them in this area as this just about covers everything you’d ever want for the device, other than the all important 3G dongle.
The ASUS Wl-330N3G is one of those devices that is just a little bit different and was probably quite a gamble from ASUS as they have tried to cram so many good features into such a small device while maintaining its usability and functionality. In our eyes it certainly paid off, as this device could win awards for its design, features, functionality and performance. The option of 6 different modes allows for very quick and easy set-up and you can literally be on the internet within seconds rather than minutes.
In terms of design, this ASUS router does look good in its white casing and its sleek curved edges. The device is compact and has a tiny foot print, but does unfortunately only have 1 ethernet port, this does however still allow for lots of features including as an Access Point, Network Adapter, Wireless Router, Wireless Repeater and a Wi-Fi and 3G device that can share connections between several devices. This is perfect for the modern household which needs internet for TV’s and Games Consoles and all the laptops, iPads and everything else the kids now have.
In terms of features the graphical interface is simple, effective and really easy to use, which is something I wish all other network manufacturers could master. The performance can be beaten it is only N150 after all, but it is leagues ahead of many budget routers on the market, and is stiff competition for its full-sized higher powered counterparts. Couple this with the 3G Sharing, Universal Wi-Fi Repeater and the tiny footprint, as well as other features, you have a truly remarkable product.
ASUS have also bundled everything you could possible want with this device, a USB power cable, a mains power cable, a car power cable and even a carry case, and although you can’t fit all of these cables and the device into the carry case it certainly fits the ones you are likely to use for that day. Even in the carry case it will still take up a tiny portion of any luggage.
We do at eTeknix always try to find faults with a device or things we didn’t like about it, and well there just aren’t any. Even the price is a reasonable £55.08 on Scan.co.uk.
The ASUS WL-330N3G 6 in 1 Wireless-N Mobile Router certainly impressed us, it has the looks, the features and the performance and it is unbelievably compact that it won’t look out of place on any desk, or sat next to your TV or Games Console, and it has even been designed to be used to convert your car into a Wi-Fi Zone. ASUS have certainly thought of everything with regards to this device, and even after several weeks of using this device we have failed to find anything that we didn’t like about, it does exactly what it is meant to do, and it does everything better and more easily than we expected.