Thursday, May 6, 2010

Review - Cradlepoint CTR350 Mobile Broadband Travel Router

How cool would it be to have a device about the size of a pack of cigarettes that was a personal/portable 'hotspot' that could provide instant wifi access anywhere, not just for you but for a dozen friends or devices? Laptop, iPad, iPod Touch? How about for $99? What about $69? It's not science fiction, it's the Cradlepoint CTR-350 Mobile Broadband Travel Router. I just picked one up at the Lafayette Best-Buy for $69 (normally $99).

I took it out of the box, plugged in my company's 3G wireless card, and my netbook and iPad were online with almost no configuration, in about two minutes. Ok - that wireless card is the "catch." This Travel Router has a USB slot where you can plug in a "3G data modem" card which typically is used to connect a single laptop to the internet via a 3G mobile service plan. The card I have is the Sierra Wireless 881u which works well. The cost for the data plan varies, but tends to run $35-$49 per month (two-year plan).

IF you already have some kind of data modem, the CTR350 travel router lets it work simultaneously with up to a dozen wifi devices and is a super buy. Some people can instead use a smart phone with "tethering" capability to provide the access. If you don't yet have the modem, and either travel a lot or don't yet have broadband it might be worth considering.

If you have a data modem that is an express card, get the CTR-500 instead. If you want a battery powered personal hotspot, Cradlepoint has a model called the PHS-300. The CTR350 and CTR500 have the added advantage of an Ethernet jack, so you can use it to either hook up a computer without wifi, or you can use the router with your cable model as a Wifi access point.

Even better, talk your boss into getting your team one, so that you can be productive at all times, even on the road, as a passenger in a car on a long drive, or on-site at a client's location.  :)


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