Portable 3G modem market can be segregated with 3G USB dongles that can share connection with a single computer or a MiFi that creates a Wi-Fi wireless hotspot that can be shared with more than one PC. But what if we get the best of both worlds? D-Link is trying to do just that with the Le Petit USB router (DWR-510). It can be used as regular 3.75G USB dongle or can be converted into a wireless router that can share internet connection with multiple Wi-Fi-enabled devices.
Making the USB dongle work is quite easy. Insert the SIM card in the slot located at the back of the dongle and plug in the USB dongle to the USB port of your laptop or PC. The device will automatically prompt to install the requisite D-Link Connection software along with the drivers. However, here comes the tricky part – the internet settings. Although the D-Link software has saved internet profiles of various operators from around the world, it is better to know your operator settings beforehand. As far as India goes, I could only find settings for Airtel, Loop Mobile (earlier BPL), Vodafone, Idea and Spice Punjab.
On the bright side, it’s a smooth ride thereafter. D-Link’s software interface is slick and sports easy-to-understand icons with network signal bar at the top. In addition to surf the web, the modem mode also allows user to access the SIM card’s phonebook as well send or receive SMSes.
The USB Dongle’s performance is dependent on the cellular coverage but the DWR-510 is capable of giving speeds of up to 7.2Mbps down and 5.6Mbps up.
As we said earlier, this USB dongle is also able to function as a router and this is done by a small switch located at the side of the device. Switching to router mode, the D-Link software will again want you to configure internet settings along with other settings related to the router. Good thing here is that you can even set the wireless security and even filter devices that can be connected on the basis of MAC address. Unlike MiFi devices that come with an integrated battery, D-Link’s DWR-510 needs additional source of power. Be it the regular USB port on your PC or a USB AC adapter that can be attached to a wall power socket.
However, all said and done, I think there are couple of shortcomings that makes Le Petit less lucrative. First is the Mac OS support. Mac users wanting to use the device will have to be disappointed, as the dongle does not work with the Apple OS. Of course, they could use it as a router but to configure the router settings, you still need a Windows PC.
Second thing is the price. Agreed that this product is a novelty but asking in excess of 7k (Rs. 7,200 to be exact) for such a product could hamper uptake as MiFi devices go cheaper than that.
Pros: Plug and Play, Easy to Use
Cons: No Mac OS support, Price