3G mobile broadband dongles are popular, but they have their limitations. You can’t share your connection with other devices, and even if you buy a router with 3G capabilities, you still need a mains power supply. Unless, that is, you buy the Solwise 3G-183n.
The Solwise 3G-183n is a battery-powered 802.11n Wi-Fi router with a built-in 3G modem. All you need to supply is a suitable 3G SIM card – it isn’t locked to any network. It’s quite chunky, measuring 91x78x30mm, but the space is required for the two lithium ion batteries, and the LAN and USB ports at one end. It can be charged in about three hours using either the AC adapter or from a USB port using a mini-USB cable (not supplied). We found battery life varied between about five and seven hours, depending on network activity. There’s a 5V USB power outlet that can be used for charging a mobile phone or powering other USB devices, although it wouldn’t charge all of the phones we tried.
There’s a small quick-start guide in the box, but the web configuration interface is very straightforward to use. We put in a Three PAYG SIM, entered the APN details and it connected immediately. The Wi-Fi network can be partitioned into five separate SSIDs, each of which can be isolated from the LAN for guest access. You can also use the 100Mbit/s Ethernet port or Wi-Fi for WAN access – in the latter case, it can also be configured as a universal repeater so you can use it as both a Wi-Fi client and access point simultaneously.
Contact: 0845 458 4558
- Good battery life; USB power outlet; multiple SSIDs.
- No visual indication of remaining battery charge.
A very handy - but rather expensive - device with a lot of flexibility that's perfect for those who need to use or share internet access when there's not a power socket in sight.