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Review: Portable Routers That Let You Create Your Own Wi-Fi Hotspot

Check out travel routers that let you create your own wireless network by plugging into a hotel room's free wired broadband connection.
From left to right: D-Link Shareport Mobile Companion DIR-505, Apple Airport Express.
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Many hotels charge $10 a day or more for Wi-Fi access. If your room has a free wired broadband connection, you can use a router to create your own Wi-Fi hot spot for your laptop, tablet, and smartphone. We tested the following routers during a recent trip.

Best for Speedy Wi-Fi
Apple Airport Express

The palm-size, 8.5-ounce AirPort Express is easy to configure using your iPad or iPhone settings or downloadable software for Macs and PCs. As with the other router we tested, it connects to broadband using an Ethernet cable. The router has a USB port that supports printers, so you can print wirelessly, but there's no port for a thumb drive. It also has an audio port for speakers, so you can stream music from any connected computer. During our test, we copied a 4GB file between two laptops in five and a half minutes.
Cost: $99

Best for Sharing Files
D-link SharePort Mobile Companion DIR-505

Unlike the AirPort, the palm-size, 3.7-ounce SharePort plugs directly into an outlet, eliminating the need for a bulky power cord. You can configure the router online or use an app for iPhones or iPads to create a mobile network. The router has a USB port for a printer and external storage devices, which means you can access and share files on a thumb drive. Another plus: You can use the router to charge your iPhone or Android phone on the go. On the downside, it took 11 minutes to transfer a 4GB file using the SharePort network.
Cost: $69.99

 

IMAGE: Courtesy Companies
Last updated: Nov 1, 2012

JOHN BRANDON | Columnist

John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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