Mobile broadband for PCs has not taken off quite as much in the UK as was hoped when it first appeared, but it is still a very handy technology when you’re out and about or live in a broadband-less area. Most smartphones have a personal hotspot feature that lets you share the 3G connection over Wi-Fi, but this is a real battery-eater.
Enter TP-Link’s MR-3020, a personal hotspot device that connects to the web using a 3G USB dongle and shares it via a built-in single-stream (150Mbps) 802.11n wireless router. The dongle isn’t supplied, but TP-Link has a compatibility list on its website. However, we successfully tested it with a ZTE MF627 and a Huawei E160G, neither of which are on the list, and other models will be added via firmware updates.
The tiny MR-3020 has one USB port, a 10/100Mbps LAN port, and a mini-USB port for power. It comes with a small wall adapter, or it can be powered from a laptop’s USB port. It doesn’t have a battery, however, unlike competing products such as the MiFi. For most users we doubt whether this is a real problem, although the supplied USB power cable is ridiculously short.
It was fairly easy to setup, using a built-in wizard to choose the operating mode – it can work as a 3G router, a Wi-F bridge/access point, a WDS repeater or connect to a wireless ISP (WISP). We did have to tweak the default Three 3G access point settings, as it used the wrong name.
There are plenty of very advanced configuration options, such as multiple SSID support, in the easy to use menu system, and overall it’s an impressive little piece of kit for the price.
Contact: 01344 566393
- Multiple modes of operation; compact
- Power cable is very short; default dongle settings might need to be tweaked
An excellent little device with multiple functions. It's easy to configure and use, and doesn’t cost much either.