The internet has become a primary part of most people’s lives. You probably carry a mobile smartphone, or maybe you use a tablet, and the chances are you check emails or your social media pages on the move. You might also use it for shopping – indeed, online retail is fast catching up with the high street – or simply for browsing, but whatever you use it for, you want access on the move. This is the very reason why public Wi-Fi hot spots are very popular, as you can get online in the pub, in a café, or even in the shops.
If you start to think about it, you’ll realise that the internet is still very much in its infancy; how often were you online, for instance, 20 years ago? It’s important to differentiate between the ‘internet’ as such, and the ‘World Wide Web’ in order to come to terms with just how young it is. The former was a collection of networks linked together, mainly for commercial use, but the world took a massive step into the future when scientist Tim Berners-Lee recognised the potential, and gave rise to the ‘www’ prefix we all use without thinking today.
That was in 1990; seriously, the web is not yet 30 years old! Yet now, we have access to more information than we could ever imagine – some of it rather spurious – and also much more besides, all thanks to the development of the silicon chip. So, what does this have to do with today’s review subject, the travel router? Well, in your home and office you most likely have a broadband connection; the travel router allows you to have one pretty much anywhere, so before we go on to give you a list of our top 10, let’s have a quick look at what they do, and how they do it.
The Top 10
Table of Contents
- 1 The Top 10
- 2 How It Works
- 3 Features to Look For
- 4 Let’s Wrap It Up!
The first choice in our list is this one from HooToo, a company with a wide range of devices in this genre, and a reputation for excellent products. This one is very neat and surprisingly small, and does a good job as a wireless travel router, as well as offering a variety of other functions. For example, it can be used to stream video, films, and more, and is very versatile indeed. It can also be used for viewing photos, by way of an associated app. In short, it does what it says.
As a router, it is configured to change a wired network into a wireless one, creating your own private and secure network, so is a more viable option than your general public Wi-Fi. It can also handle multiple USB flash drives, and the battery power – it has its own power pack – is enough to charge a mobile phone several times over. It is a very handy device, then, to have in your bag when travelling, as it can help you out in several areas. At a little more than £40 it is not the cheapest of these, but it is one of the more capable, so worth a second look.
The great thing about these devices is that they are not only practical, but actually trendy and stylish. Take one of these RAVPower models to the pub, for example, and all your friends will be impressed! This one is amazingly compact – it’s just 10cm long – and comes in a variety of colours, but it’s what it can do that is most impressive. For a start, it can be used to convert a wired connection into a wireless one, in an instant and creating a secure network, and it can also be used to boost an existing signal, so is equally useful there.
It’s also very versatile in terms of storage, sharing and streaming, and has a powerful built-in power bank that is more than capable of charging any mobile, and it can be used to read SD cards, and to download from hard drives and a wide variety of other mediums. It’s a very versatile device that will provide you with a more than capable personal Wi-Fi connection, and we like it. As you get change from £40 for this one, it’s also good value.
We continue to be amazed at how much capability you can pack into such a small device, and this is a prime example of superb packaging. It’s so small – at 5.6cm square – that it is hardly noticeable, yet it can do everything you want a travel router to do. For a start, it provides 300Mbps wireless streaming, so is perfect for video and film use, and it can create your own personal Wi-Fi network that is perfectly secure and very usable. It’s a neat design, and one that will find many friends among gadget lovers.
The thing is, while a gadget, a travel router is more than just the sum of its parts; it’s a device that allows you to keep in touch wherever you are, and one that can be used for many other purposes. It should be noted that this one does not have as powerful a battery as those above, so may not be as versatile, but at a shade less than £20, it is very good value as a personal Wi-Fi travel router.
It is worth mentioning here that TP-Link is one of the leading names in this field, and they have a wide range of travel routers, each with its own capabilities. This one looks very much like the one above – although it is slightly bigger – yet is far more capable. It is a dual-band model for added performance and HD streaming capability, and it comes with all the usual input and output modes. It can provide you with a private Wi-Fi connection that is fast and secure, and much more besides.
It has a USB connection which makes it perfectly capable of sharing files to and from your mobile, laptop or other devices, and it is very fast indeed when in action. It can be powered by a USB connection, too, so is perfect for travel purposes. This one is designed to be very simple to use, there’s a one-switch operation for all functions, and is small enough to carry in your pocket, and at around £35 is not a cheap as the one above, but does more so is recommended here.
This one is a slightly larger version of the TP-Link 300 Nano, with a little more power and capability. It can do everything you want a travel router to do. For a start, it provides 300Mbps wireless streaming, so is perfect for video and film use, and it can create your own personal Wi-Fi network that is perfectly secure and very usable. It’s a neat design, and one that will find many friends among gadget lovers.
The thing is, while a gadget, a travel router is more than just the sum of its parts; it’s a device that allows you to keep in touch wherever you are, and one that can be used for many other purposes. It should be noted that this one does not have as powerful a battery as those above, so may not be as versatile, but at around £25, it is very good value as a personal Wi-Fi travel router.
There is a design trend coming to the fore in these routers; this one is very similar to those above, in that it takes an almost square and flat form, and at 5.6cm is almost the same size, too. It’s from HooToo, one of the leading names in the field, and it’s a very clever little device. It is powered by USB which makes it extremely light – but as it has no power pack it can’t charge your mobile – and the cable is supplied, plus it can convert a wired connection into a wireless one in no time at all.
This one is great for use as a private network, can stream video in high quality and at sensible speeds, and can also be used to store data via a USB flash drive. It’s a very neat little device that will win friends thanks to its capability, and is so small it will not even be noticed in your luggage. Put simply, it does what it is designed to do and does it well, and at a little more than £20 is very good value.
What struck us most about these clever little devices is that they are so versatile; this one can be connected to the wall outlet to convert a wired network into a wireless one, and it is very versatile indeed. It’s from TP-Link – the leading brand so you have no worries about quality of the product – and it does the job, but it’s worth knowing that it only provides 150Mbps speed, so is not as fast as some of the others. That shouldn’t be a problem in most cases, but might result in some problems with streaming.
Having said that, user reviews have been very favourable, which is a testament to the quality of the brand, and it is so small you will not even notice it is there. It is easy to use and comes with all the necessary cables and instructions, and can be used to create your own private network, but has no battery pack so will not charge your smart phone. However, at less than £17 it is very good value, so should not be overlooked if all you want is a travel router and no gimmicks – although the 300Mbps version is just a few pounds more.
While most of these so far have taken the form of small and square designs, this one – from the known and regarded Netgear brand – does things a little bit differently. It is a tall and thin design – 13cm tall so much bigger than some of these – so may not be as portable as some others, but it is still worthy of mention here. It offers you 300Mbps speed, so is up there with the fastest of the rest, and is designed to provide Wi-Fi network for small to medium homes, and it is a stylish device, too.
This one is designed for streaming and also for gaming – note that it comes with parental control options so you can keep the kid’s safe – and is powerful enough to be used as a permanent router, but we’re not sure it is one you would want to carry around with you and use, for example, in your hotel. Nevertheless, it is a good model and we like it, and at around £20 it’s also good value given the speed.
This tiny device, the usual square design and just 5.8cm, is a very impressive one indeed, and comes from a brand that knowns its stuff. It’s available in a variety of colours – just for fun – and is powered by a very capable chip that offers 300Mbps transfer speeds, so is capable enough for streaming whatever you want. It’s also very light, so you will not notice it if you are carrying it around in your luggage, and it’s surprisingly easy to use.
Interestingly, this one comes with a VPN function installed, so is great for if you want to keep your identity and location safe, and comes with all interfaces and possible necessary connections pre-installed and ready to use. Indeed, we reckon that of all of these, this one pushes the boundaries of what a travel router is capable of further than most. You will be hard pushed to find a mini router with a better specification at the price, which is under £30 so well worth a look.
Billed as the ‘world’s tiniest travel router, this one is indeed very small, and also quite capable of providing you with your own personal hotspot. It USB powered and can be used to add ethernet connection, and can also provide connection to many different devices at once. This is a no-frills design – indeed, there is nothing special about it at all, but that’s no bad thing – that does what it says it will do, and that does it very well.
It is so small and light you will have no idea it is on your person – it’s perhaps the idea pocket model – and is very simple to use. It doesn’t try to be clever, and there are no gimmicks, and perhaps the only drawback is that it can only provide 150Mbps speed, so is not as fast as some of the others. At a shade more than £20 it’s also good value, so certainly worth a look.
That’s ten of the best travel routers on the market right now, and each has its own merits. You can choose the one that suits you best, but before we sum up, let’s have a quick look at the important features to consider.
How It Works
It’s curious how we have become so used to booting up a laptop or desktop and simply getting down to business; we don’t even think about how it works, or even why. As we have said above, there was no such thing as a web browser before 1990, so while the internet existed in some form, you couldn’t have used it as you do today. Nowadays, you have at your fingertips information on just about every subject – it’s safe to say that the internet has been a complete revolution in communication and information sharing, and has changed the lives of each one of us in a way we cannot quantify.
So, travel routers, where do they come into the picture? Well, we reckon they may actually be the Next Big Thing, as some of the better ones actually create your own personal Wi-Fi network, and a secure one, too, rather than the unsecure version you get with a public hot-spot. These are very small devices, easy to carry around and very versatile, and they are becoming increasingly popular with users in all walks of life.
If you want constant access to the internet, then, you need one of these, and who doesn’t? Whether you use the web for business or pleasure, the convenience of a travel router is not to be sniffed at, and we reckon that owning one of these will soon become the norm, just as owning a mobile phone is today. They are easy to use, surprisingly affordable and very versatile, so let’s have a look at the top ten travel routers, as available today, so you can choose the one that is best for you.
Features to Look For
It’s only fair to say that most of these do the same job, but some do it better than others! The trick is to know what you are looking for, so before we head to our summary, let’s have a reminder of the things you need to look out for when choosing a travel router.
Size – as this is a travel item, you want it to be small and light, and most of these are very much so. Choose one that will fit in the pocket, and you have the right idea.
Speed – basically, you have a choice of 300 or 150Mbps with this selection, and the speed refers to the transfer rate of data. The faster the better, so make sure you consider your options carefully and choose the fastest one for your budget.
Other functions – some of these come with a power pack so are suitable for charging phones; it’s up to you if you make this a selling point, but we’re not sure it is.
Price – there is quite a variation in price among these devices, so set your budget and you’ll find something that fits your needs.
So, that’s about it! There you have the important features to consider when choosing a travel router, so all that remains now is for us to wrap things up!
Let’s Wrap It Up!
Are you now convinced you need a travel router? We are, and we think that very soon everyone will be carrying one of these very clever and very convenient devices. The only problem is, which one do you choose? To be honest, that’s your decision, but we have a couple of pointers: first, there’s not much difference in price between the 300Mbps and 150Mbps models, so we recommend you choose one of the latter – you will notice the difference, especially when streaming data.
Which one do we recommend? There are several options, but when you look at the specifications, it’s hard to get past number 9, the very neat and compact model from GL, as it ticks all the boxes at a sensible price. Have another look, check out the details, and choose the one you want – and enjoy your browsing wherever you may be!