There's a reason we chose the name MobileTechReview— we provide key product information and relate experiences of value
to road warriors. Staying connected provides perhaps the largest
challenge for today's road warriors. At one time, the challenge
consisted of finding hotels that provided data ports for modem
connections. Later, this changed to finding RJ-45 Ethernet ports
for high-speed Internet connections. Today's wireless world cries
out for free 802.11b service in business hotels.
Most service businesses like hotels adapt rather slowly to technology
changes. Some haven't made it to the Ethernet high-speed Internet
stage. Many more made it that far but haven't invested in a wireless
infrastructure yet. What's a wireless, mobile body to do?
Enter D-Link with their mobile router/access
point (AP)-the DWL-G730AP. This baby measures just 3.15" x 2.36" x 0.65" (8
x 6 x 1.65 cm) and weighs in at only 1.8 oz (50 grams). It comes
with a short CAT5 cable, AC power adapter, and USB power adapter.
All this fits in a very attractive, pocketed, 6.1" x 4.7" x
1.5" (15.5 x 11.9 x 3.8 cm) carrying case that fits nicely
in a corner of your roll-on suitcase. It also comes with an installation
CD with the manual on it. D-Link provided everything you could
possibly need to connect wirelessly to the Internet through a wired
Ethernet port. The USB power connector even allows the D-Link to
be powered by a laptop. D-Link thought of everything.
The router/AP itself has a 3-position switch that determines its
function as well as the role of the Ethernet port in the rear of
the device. It can act as an access point, router, or wireless
client. If you wish to use the AP to connect to the Internet through
a hotel room's Ethernet port, then choose the router position.
To give your laptop wireless capability to connect to a wireless
LAN, then choose the client position. Furnishing your wired router
with wireless capability uses the access point position on the
Note that the device's name says that is supports the 54 MB/sec
802.11g standard. This may be fine for newer laptops with 802.11g
WiFi cards, but all PDAs as of this writing only support the older
11 MB/sec 802.11b standard. No problem, as the D-Link maintains
full backward-compatibility with the 802.11b standard.
In addition to the security modes discussed below, it sports a
built-in Network Address Translation (NAT) firewall with Virtual
Private Network (VPN) pass-through in router mode. This combination
both increases security while allowing you to connect to your company
LAN. In access point (AP) mode, the D-Link supports 802.1x authentication
with a RADIUS server. That's a lot of power in such a tiny container.
Setting up the Pocket AP proved to be a breeze. A web-based interface
with wizards and a colorful user guide (also on the accompanying
CD) takes you step-by-step through the process. Deciding on
the correct function-switch position provides the only real
challenge. Carefully following the wizards or step-by-step
directions in the brochure will get you connected in minutes.
If all else fails or you make a fatal mistake, simply reset
the device and start over.
The router mode may be configured wirelessly, but not the other
two modes. This increases the security of the device. Router mode
cannot be setup through the Ethernet port because the port changes
function in that mode to Internet access only.
It doesn't hurt, though, to know a few basic
wireless facts up front. For example, it another wireless setup
is present in the area, choose a channel at least 5 away from the
existing setup. Failure to do so will result in interference, packet
corruption, and/or an intermittent connection. Change the default
password and SSID to improve its security. In a small hotel
room, you don't need the device running at full power. If you
don't use any security, you basically invite others to share
your connection. Most fellow travelers would probably just
check their email, but you don't want to be traced as the source
of illegal activities in which a few might engage through your
open router. Better safe than sorry, so use security or lower
the power to some minimum required inside the room.
Setup directly from a PDA proved challenging, but not due to any
fault of the D-Link. Neither WebPro 3.5 on the Palm OS nor Netfront
3.1 on the Pocket PC side would properly load all the required
web screens from the D-Link. Believe it or not, Pocket IE in Windows
Mobile 2003 SE would load the screens, but wouldn't allow some
basic settings to change. The D-Link should therefore be set up
from a laptop or desktop computer before traveling with your PDA.
Use in the wild
With the exception of the RADIUS server feature,
Tanker Bob tested all supported security modes of the D-Link Pocket
Router/AP-open (i.e., no security), 64- and 128-bit WAP, MAC filtering,
disabling SSID broadcasting, and WPA-PSK. The device performed
well in all these modes. For use with a Palm
Tungsten T3 and an Enfora
Wireless Portfolio, 128-bit WAP combined with MAC filtering
and disabled SSID broadcasting furnished the best-possible security.
The Dell Axim X50v with Windows
Mobile 2003SE supported the overall most secure setup with WPA-PSK,
MAC filtering, and disabled SSID broadcast. I also tested all these
configurations with my Windows XP SP 2 desktop computer. All of
these setups provided excellent performance.
Trip after trip, the D-Link had me connected
to the net within minutes of arrival in my hotel room. Once I had
set up the router in advance, I just plugged it in and I was off
and running at each stop. The carrying case kept all required pieces
together and consistently organized. Just toss the case into my
roll-on for each trip-no searching for loose stuff at the last
minute. Everything about traveling should be this easy.
Tanker Bob can't speak highly enough of the D-Link
DWL-G730AP Pocket Router/AP. It furnishes the road warrior with
everything necessary to connect under any circumstance where an
Ethernet connection is available. The D-Link retails for $99.99,
but can be found on the net for about $63-a no-kidding bargain.
Tanker Bob doesn't leave home without it!
Pros: Everything necessary for all possible connections included, except
Built-in NAT firewall w/VPN pass-through
Supports all common wireless connection and security standards
Exceptionally easy to use web-based setup
Cons: Haven't found a way to change some settings via PDA browsers