Monday, 21 March 2016

Asus WL-330NUL

Asus WL-330NUL

While other travel routers in the group offer something extra beyond the extension or conversion of wired to wireless networks, Asus has developed something a little different. Advertised as the world’s smallest router, the WL-330NUL is made with simplicity and size in mind, but is it any good?

First off, the Asus WL-330NUL really is very small. It measures just 65 x 20 x 15mm and weighs mere grams. On one end you’ll find a 10/100Mbps Ethernet port, and on the other there’s a USB 2.0 connector that fits into your laptop or PC.

Somewhere in the middle of that, Asus has included 802.11n support on a single 2.4GHz channel and a 2dBi antenna. In terms of hardware, that’s all you’re going to get from this miniscule device.

It can, however, work in a number of different ways. By plugging the USB side into a power adapter and into a wall socket, while the Ethernet end connects as a WAN port, the WL-330NUL acts as a wireless router. Another mode allows you to use it as a hotspot WISP sharing device. Plug it into a spare USB port on your computer and it’ll become a wireless adapter. Likewise, plug it into the USB port in a laptop and it becomes an Ethernet adapter.

Obviously due to its size there’s limited functionality, you won’t find USB sharing, WPS buttons or anything quite as exotic as that here, and the single band is also a limiting factor. But the trade-off is the size of the device itself and that it’s extremely portable. This alone is enough to sway a lot of users who can happily throw it in their bags with a laptop or tablet and have access to the internet in a variety of different ways.

However, you do get some extra features in the form of a guest SSID setup, site survey management, DHCP, NAT and a virtual DMZ. There’s also a decent level of encryption with WPA2 and 128-bit AES security built in. It’s also very easy to get up and running, connecting to an existing network or configuring it as a wireless or wired adapter. All the software for the device is stored on the device itself; you just need to connect it to a PC and load it up.

The Asus WL-330NUL is an interesting device, and we really like it, but it's very limited. Its appeal is understandable, though. Why bother carrying around a bigger box-like device when this USB stick-sized thing does pretty much the same thing? It’s not the best connection we’ve used; in fact, its range was pretty poor, with the signal dropping to nearly nothing ten feet from the router it was connected to.

One more plus point to add, though: the Asus WL-330NUL only costs £19.99. So not only does it appeal with its size but also its price.