Whether you travel for work or pleasure, it can be pretty frustrating to find yourself in a location where you just can’t get reliable access to a safe and secure wireless network. While your local coffee shop or hotel may allow you to log on, you just don’t know who is capable of perusing your data. One way of getting around this is by using a portable Wi-Fi router, both as a security measure and as a way to enable all of your devices to gain access simultaneously.
Portable Wifi Routers: A Quick Rundown
A Portable Wifi Router is becoming more necessary these days, particularly since smartphones and tablets don’t have ethernet connectors. This kind of device basically allows you to jump on another network, such as a public network, cell phone hotspot, or an Ethernet network in a hotel for example, and turn that network into a wireless one that you control.
There are other added features in some of these routers that make them invaluable to travelers, such as their ability to be used as a streaming device, a USB charger, or a backup device. The fact that they are also very small, able to be charged via a USB cord, and provide an additional layer of security for your data makes them vital for today’s busy electronics enthusiast.
If you need help setting up a router, be sure to check out my detailed guide here.
With that out of the way, here are my top 5 picks:
This is one of the smaller portable Wi-Fi routers, measuring 2.64” x 2.91” x 0.87”, or as many of the reviewers mention, small enough to fit into your pocket. It operates at 760 Mb per second and operates dual-band frequency. It also weighs less than half a pound, so it won’t weigh you down while traveling.
This has 802.11ac wireless capability, operates at speeds up to 433Mbps at 5Ghz, and 300Mbps at 2.4Ghz. It comes with a USB power adapter, a single USB 2.0 port, and a 10/100Mbps WAN/LAN port.
Rated well on Amazon, it appears as if this is not only one of the more popular portable Wi-Fi travel routers, but also one that has proven to be very reliable for a lot of customers.
Among the many extra features that this router has is that it can be used as a range extender in your home, helping to eliminate the types of dead zones that many of us deal with, and it also has a built-in client mode for wired connections. The USB port makes it easy for you to shares your files, and you can also take advantage of this same port to charge your phone or tablet in an emergency.
This portable Wifi router has good ratings. It is available in both black or white, and measures 3.82” x 2.13” x 1.06”. Weighing in at 5.4 ounces, it is extremely lightweight, which is important for when you are traveling.
As far as specs go, this router has a data transfer rate of 300 Mbs and operates on a single band frequency. It uses 2.4 GHz radio frequency for its signal and is capable of handling up to five mobile devices simultaneously. The battery capacity is 6000mAh and it supports both wired and wireless networks, along with PPPoE, static, and dynamic IP addresses.
One of the advantages of this router is that it has a built-in battery which can also be used as a charger for your phone or tablet. It has an AP mode, which can turn a wired network into a wireless one, and a router mode which you can use with a traditional DSL or cable modem. The bridge mode is helpful if you want to connect this to a Wi-Fi network and basically create your own network on top of that.
This portable travel router has a built-in SD card reader and is also “Chromecast-friendly”, allowing you to work seamlessly with Chromecast streaming. So, if you are into streaming while you are on the road, then this certainly makes it easy.
Not all travel or portable wi-fi routers allow you to not only connect to the internet but also act as a full-featured charger, but the HooToo Wireless Travel Router certainly does. In fact, this power bank has 10400mAh, allowing it to charge multiple devices multiple times, and that is a feature that most of us couldn’t do without.
It measures 1.65” x 3.74” x 1.65” and weighs about half a pound. It operates on a single-band frequency and has an impressive data transfer rate of 3-7 Mbs. But, it is really the other features that make it so unique.
For instance, you can connect a network cable (ethernet) from your home, hotel, or just about anywhere else and instantly turn it into a wireless network for your devices. It also acts as a wireless router when connected to a traditional modem or DSL line. Another feature that a lot of people like is that it has a built-in bridge mode that allows you to connect and share a connection with others (or with your other devices).
This router is fully Chromecast compatible, so it makes streaming easy and fun, and you can connect up to five devices at the same time, making streaming to multiple devices extremely easy. One additional feature that makes this router somewhat unique is that it has a proprietary app that you can use on your phone or tablet and manage all the functions of the device. Whether you are using this as a router, a charger, a streaming device, or a Chromecast manager, there is almost no limit to what this device is capable of.
One of the features that are particularly useful in any mini travel router is its ability to convert a wired network into a wireless one. Many hotels still only have ethernet or wired networks which obviously won’t work with a smartphone or tablet. But, with this router, you will be able to plug it into the network’s ethernet cord and immediately have access to your own wireless network.
Not only can you use this as a way to maintain your own wireless network just about anywhere, but it also has a large storage capability, with 64 RAM, 16mb flash ROM, and two built-in Ethernet ports. It also enables you to convert a 3G or 4G phone network into a private wi-fi network for your own use.
Although most consumers tend to think that this is a powerful and reliable wi-fi router for travel, it is fairly new to the market. This device measures 2.2” x 2.2” x 0.94 and weighs just 1.44 ounces, making it one of the smallest and lightest travel routers out there.
Don’t let the size fool you – this router packs a powerful punch. It operates 802.11bgn wireless and has a data transfer rate of 150 Mb per second. It can be used as both a wired and a wireless device and has a built-in VPN function. This OpenVPN client allows you to do what you’re doing in privacy, without the usual security problems that come with piggy-backing on a hotel or other public network.
Not all travel routers are going to be the size of a matchbox, particularly those that are full of features and power. The ZyXEL wireless router is one such device – allowing you to perform a variety of functions at home, on the road, or while connecting to public networks.
One thing that makes this device so unique among travel routers is that it is sturdy. It has all of the features that you would expect, acting as a wireless bridge, a router, a charger, and a data transfer device. It operates on 802.11n wireless connectivity and boasts a data transfer rate of up to 150 Mbps.
This portable Wifi router measures 2.3” x 2.9” x 0.6” and weighs just over 12 ounces, which is considerably heavier than other similar products. But, it is still a portable device and smaller than a smartphone. It can be charged by either USB or with a traditional AC cord.
The ZyXEL wireless travel router is one of the most popular devices of its kind. When you read the reviews, one thing that you will notice is that a lot of people use this in their home as a way to expand wireless networking capabilities to traditionally wired devices. It is also very popular among people who spend a lot of time in hotels and have struggled with wired networks.