As you'll know if you read my blog, I'm almost constantly away from home. Unfortunately, I do require an almost constant Internet connection whilst I'm away. I've tried various methods of staying connected, most of which have not been entirely successful.
I've tried connecting using a 3G dongle, and using Internet connection sharing on my laptop to connect to my iPhone etc. This always seemed to be a pretty flaky solution. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn't and there didn't seem to be any real pattern to it. I've tried connection sharing on my iPhone and Android devices, with a similar level of success.
I've also tried a MiFi unit, which, whilst it was a good idea in principle, failed due to a lack of signal by the service provider, in this case 3.
I had never considered a portable router solution, mainly because I never knew such devices existed. However, after a little research, I came across the Zoom 3G Wireless-N Travel Router on Amazon (disclosure: that's an affiliate link). it had rave reviews. In fact, many were so good, that I began to suspect that they may have been planted. I did a little checking on some other sites and they seemed to confirm the reports on Amazon. Given that nothing else seemed to have worked properly, I decided to take a chance on it.
The unit duly arrived, and I proceeded to set it up as per the provided instructions. I went for the portable version, so the first step was to insert the rechargeable battery provided and charge the unit. You can use the unit whilst it is charging. The next step was to connect the device to my laptop using the supplied network cable. You can then browse to the control panel via your web browser and configure the security (it's off by default).
The next step was incredibly easy. You just plug in a 3G dongle (I have an O2 and Vodafone dongle and they both work without any problems), and connect to the unit via Wi-Fi. And that's about it. It's easier to set up than using the software provided with the dongles! I've got my laptop, iPhone, iPad and Android devices all connected at once and it works beautifully. Switching between dongles appears to present no problems to the unit, but I do switch it off before switching just to make sure.
Another great benefit of the device is that I can now stream video from my laptop to my iPad, which gives me a little more freedom. I can leave the laptop perched in a corner somewhere, and not have to worry about viewing angles etc, as the iPad is right in front of me.
I'd happily recommend this portable router to anybody who does a lot of travelling and requires Internet access whilst on the go.
Talking of things that just work, I dictated this entire blog post using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11, which is so good, it's almost like living in a sci-fi movie. More on that to follow.