D-Link’s Mobile Companion 505 Travel Router is a bargain for travellers, creating an instant wireless network in your hotel room.Photo: Louise Kennerley
Now that its street price has fallen as low as $35, D-Link's Mobile Companion 505 Travel Router is a bargain buy for road warriors, and its younger sibling, the SharePort Go 506, is equally attractive at $54 around town.
The main difference between the models is that the original plugs into a mains power socket and its successor includes a rechargeable battery.
But as with so many of the networking gizmos that populate the shelves of national retailers, your first question is probably: "What would I want these things for?"
They each do four useful things. First, they can function as internet routers. Say you're staying in a hotel that offers guest internet access through a wall socket in your room. Techies call that an ethernet port, and your notebook can connect to it with a cable. But your iPad can't, since there's no ethernet socket on an iPad. D-Link solves the problem by creating an instant wireless network in the room.
Plug the 505 into the power socket and connect it to the hotel system with a cable.
Using a web browser on your smartphone, tablet or notebook, follow the set up routine. You'll soon establish a new wireless network where you have set the network name and password, so the next room won't be able to access it. But your own iPhone, iPad, notebook or Android devices will.
It's basically the same for the 506 except that you won't need to plug it into power. Its lithium battery holds three to four hours of juice and it's user-replaceable, which deserves applause.
SET UP YOUR OWN NETWORK
Next comes Wi-Fi hot-spot mode, selectable by a slider switch on the device. If you have access to a wireless network, D-Link's little units can jump on board using your password and create a second Wi-Fi network with its own name and password, piggy-backing off the base network.
Here's a neat use for this trick. Say you're hosting a meeting and you'd like to offer temporary wireless access to a crowd in your boardroom. Plug in a D-Link 505, set up a network for the boardroom for the day, and hand out the password.
No need to disclose the password to the permanent network, and as soon as you unplug the 505, the guest network evaporates.
Some full-sized routers support guest accounts and you could achieve the same result using them, if you have access to your office's main wireless router and are comfortable fiddling with it. The beauty of these portable units is that they don't involve any tinkering with the office infrastructure, and a complete non-techie can dismantle the temporary network when it's no longer required: switch off the power, network deleted.
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