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Is the D-Link SharePort Mobile Companion a travelers best friend?

technologyEdward KiledjianComment

Anytime I travel, the one thing I absolutely want is wireless in-room internet. Most hotels offer some kind of wireless service but often it is slow, overloaded or isn’t accessible everywhere in the room. The best solution to this problem is to bring along your own router and convert the in-room wired connection into your own personal wireless network.

Being a one bag (carry-on only) traveler, everything I bring has to be useful and small. The D-Link   SharePort Mobile Companion is the right answer (DIR-505). 

What it does

The 2 ways you may use the DIR-505 on the road is: 

  • As a router, it takes your wired connection and shares it with all your wireless devices
  • As a repeaster, it can amplify a weak WIFI signal and actually make it usable
  • WIFI Hostpot mode to share files from a USB key (not something I think is useful for a business traveller) 

If the hotel room has a wired internet connection, then I will always use it in the first mode. If the hotel only provides weak WIFI then I'll try to set up my wireless router as a repeater and may move it around the room to see where it provides the best peformance.

You use a simple mode rocker switch to change the device’s function.  For the first option, you choose the Router mode, plug it into the wall, plug in the wired Ethernet cable. You then use the provided network information (provided on a business card size card) and voila. 

 

Here is a view of the bottom.

You can load the D-Link IOS or Android companion app to unlock additional functionality. You can plug a USB memory key in the USB port and use it to stream pictures/movies to your device (via their app) or to backup your device onto the USB key. The port doesn't provide enough power to use a traditional USB powered mechanical hard drive (but I didn't expect it to either).

The USB port can also be used to charge your iPhone or Android phone. Which is a nice touch. It doesn't seem to charge well with the iPad but I'll have to do some additional testing. 

Since hotel rooms, aren't extremely big, you shouldn't have any issues with the power of the WIFI router. In tests I was able to go to connecting rooms and still keep a solid connection. Nothing to complain about here.  

I connected to the test device using everything from a Winwows Surface RT tablet, an iphone 4s, an iPad 2/3, a couple Android phones and 2 Dell laptops (one ruinning Windows 8 the other Windows 7). It worked great with all the devices.

Get the updates

I read some complaints related to configuration or performance but didn't experience any of it. Make sure you update to the latest firmware as this liekly fixes many of the issues users have been complaining about (drops, ability to upload photos from an ipad, etc).

I found that performing a factory reset after installing an upgrade helps get the kinks out. 

Comparing it

This isn't an ultra powerful device but is small, easy to use and fairly affordable. For the occasional traveller, this is a fantastic option to ensure you stay connected while on the road. Many European hotels include wired internet but charge extra for WIFI and the device pays for itself in 2 or 3 days.

Overall I like it and would give it a 3.5 out of 5 star rating

I tried the Belkin wireless travel router (F9K1107) and found the D-Link easier to use and more reliable. The Belkin seemed to intermittently drop my connection. I would give it a 2.5 out of 5 star rating

For now, I will stick with my Engenius ETR9330 wireless travel router. I like the Engenius because of all travel routers I have used, this one seems to provide the strongest most reliable WIFI signal. It is as small as a pack of cigarettes. Setup is extremely easy using a web browser. I have never found a device that didn't work with it. It has a built in Stateful Packet Insepection firewall which is a very nice feature for hostile hotel networks. I would give it a 4.5 out of 5 star rating