Netgear WGR-101 802.11g Travel Router Review

netgear WGR101 wireless 802.11g travel router

I took the new Netgear WGR-101 802.11g Travel Router on a 2 week business trip/stress test to San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen (China).

Conclusions

This is a simple to use router that is perfect for roadtrips to hotels with high-speed internet connections. The router itself is tiny, smaller even than a Pocket PC, and comes with a good carrying case. I had no major problems using the router and I will be taking it on all future business trips.

Carry on reading for the full review.

Introduction

My wife was about to go on a two week business trip, and one of the great things about my job is that I can work anywhere I have a high-speed internet connection so I planned to go with her.

We did a similar trip last December and found it frustrating to keep switching which laptop (mine or hers) was connected to the hotels high speed internet connection. I also found it frustrating to be tied to the desk in the hotel room all the time).

Luckily I saw a press release for a tiny new travel router from Netgear called the WGR-101. It was supposed to be very small and simple to use, and seemed to be a good solution to our problem.

Packaging

The WGR-101 arrives in a surprisingly small box which gives you a good idea of how small the router must be.

netgear WGR-101 wireless travel router 802.11g review packaging

The box contains the following:

  • The Router
  • AC Adapter
  • Resource CD
  • Installation Guide
  • Short Ethernet Cable
  • Carrying Case

For easy carrying of the router I copied the contents of the Resource CD to my hard drive before the trip.

The router, AC adapter, Ethernet cable, and instructions fit easily into the Carrying Case, and the case itself is small and fits easily into a laptop bag.

As things turned out I didn’t need the Ethernet cable but it is always good to have one with you in case the hotel or customer doesn’t have one for you.

Here is the carrying case compared to my (smallish) Sony Vaio PCG-Z1 laptop:

netgear WGR-101 wireless travel router 802.11g review comparison to laptop

Compared to a Dell Axim X30 Pocket PC:

netgear WGR-101 wireless travel router 802.11g review closed case comparison

Here is the case opened, the lid has a pocket for the instructions, and the main part of the case has 3 compartments for the router, adapter, and cable:

netgear WGR-101 wireless travel router 802.11g review open case comparison

Once you take the router out of the case it is surprisngly small (0.7 x 2.3 x 3.4 inches) and light (0.17 lbs.) especially when compared to my Axim X30 with extended battery:

netgear WGR-101 wireless travel router 802.11g review top comparison to Axim X30

netgear WGR-101 wireless travel router 802.11g review side comparison to Axim X30

The Router

The router is very “clean” and has the minimum of buttons, lights, and connectors.

The top has just 3 lights, one for power, one to show the wireless is operating, and one to show connection to a LAN (i.e. the hotel network):

netgear WGR-101 wireless travel router 802.11g review top view

There is nothing on the front and one of the sides, on the other side there is just one switch that allows you to switch between single-user, multi-user, and router configuration:

netgear WGR-101 wireless travel router 802.11g review side view

The single-user feature is a good idea, it is a fast easy way to stop anyone else connecting to your router if you are traveling with just one wireless device.

The rear of the router has the connecter for the AC adapter, the connecter for the Ethernet cable, and a reset button that you can only push with a pen or stylus (to prevent accidental resets):

netgear WGR-101 wireless travel router 802.11g review rear view

Setup and Usability

I didn’t have time to test the router before the trip so I was a little nervous given that wireless networks aren’t the easiest thing to setup.

I shouldn’t have worried: setup turned out to be really easy. After arriving at the first hotel (The San Francisco Hilton) and checking in I plugged the router into the AC adapter and set the little switch to configuration, then I turned on my laptop and it found the router and connected immediately.

To get to the router’s configuration page you have to go to 192.168.0.1 in your web browser. Once there I changed the username/password for configuration and setup some WEP encryption to keep out casual snoopers (I didn’t need to do this, and most users don’t bother but at least it gives a little extra protection/encryption).

With that done I switched the router to multi-user, connected the hotel’s Ethernet cable, and configured my laptop with the WEP passkey I had just setup. Next I opened up a web browser and up popped the hotel’s standard page where you agree to their terms and conditions (and pay the $10/day fee for high-speed access), after agreeing to that I was online! Talk about simple!.

The only hiccup I had was with my Pocket PC, for some reason it didn’t get an IP address from the router on its first attempt but after disabling and re-enabling the wireless on the Pocket PC everything worked fine.

Now the router was configured it was even easier to use in the other hotels (Conrad Hong Kong and Crowne Plaza Shenzhen): all I had to do was plug in the power, plug in the Ethernet cable, wait a few seconds, and the laptops and pocket pc connected automatically and were online.

Signal Range

I am not one for accurate measurements and timings in reviews but the range of the router seemed excellent (in fact it seems better than the range of my regular router at home, but that may be just due to less interference from other networks).

I was able to use the laptop and pocket pc in the executive lounge of the Conrad Hong Kong which was 2 floors below and a couple of rooms across from us, and at the Crowne Plaza Shenzhen I was able to use the pocket pc at the pool 15 floors below our room (a total distance I would guess of 200ft and 2 walls.

Router Features

The router seemed to have all the usual status, logging, reporting, firewall, encryption IP address configuration etc features of a desktop wireless router, although I didn’t need any of them.

Conclusions

This is a simple to use router that is perfect for roadtrips to hotels with high-speed internet connections. The router itself is tiny, smaller even than a Pocket PC, and comes with a good carrying case. I had no major problems using the router and I will be taking it on all future business trips.

In addition to working well in hotels with high-speed internet it would work well for meetings and presentations at customer sites and would allow the presenter and his/her laptop to be further away from the wired network and projector.

Overall Rating: 10/10 (great at what it does, small but perfectly formed, no complaints)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>