Unlike other travel routers, which are based on Wireless-G, the Trendnet TEW 655BR3G is a Wireless-N router. However, it only supports the single-stream N, meaning its wireless speed is capped at 150Mbps, as opposed to 300Mbps as in full-size dual-stream routers. Still, this is about three times the speed of any Wireless-G router and for most situations, 150Mbps is plenty fast.
Despite the tiny size, the Trendnet TEW 655BR3G has a lot of features. It has a battery bay on the bottom that hosts a lithium ion battery (included), which has enough juice to power the router for a few hours on one charge. This helps the router be truly mobile when used with a 3G dongle.
The router supports a Wi-Fi Protected Setup with a button on the side. This button initiates the 2-minute window that any other WPS-enabled device can securely enter the network without requiring you to remember or type in the password (aka, the encryption key).
The Web interface shows many other regular features you'd find in other full-size routers, such as support for Dynamic DNS, port forwarding, and different methods of security such as MAC address filtering and all different versions of WEP and WPA wireless encryptions.
The Trendnet TEW 655BR3G exceeded our expectations in both throughput and range performance. Despite its tiny size, the router offers throughput speed comparable to that of full-size, dual-stream wireless-N routers and is faster than the MiFi, by a large margin.
In the throughput test, the Trendnet TEW 655BR3G scored 44Mbps, compared with the 50.4Mbps of the Cisco Valet Plus and the Linksys E3000's 43.5Mbps. At this speed, the router can transmit 500MB in about a minute and half.
In the 100-foot range test, the Trendnet did very well with a 29.4Mbps throughput rate. And in the mixed-mode test, where the router was set to work with both Wireless-N and legacy Wireless-G clients at the same time, it scored 36.9Mbps, which is another very impressive number.
The most impressive thing about the Trendnet, however, was its range. In our test environment, the router was able to hold a steady connection up to almost 180 feet away. Considering its size, this is a very long range. To put this in perspective, the MiFi 2200 could only cover a radius of 30 feet.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Trendnet provided us with a 3G USB dongle from AT&T to try out with the TEW 655BR3G, and when we used it, we found that the router didn't recognize the dongle automatically.
However, after we logged into its Web interface and adjusted a few settings, the router was able to connect to the Internet via the cellular connection. The connection, though fast enough for most surfing needs, wasn't as fast as the MiFi 2200's.
We believe this had more to do with AT&T's sketchy 3G signal in the San Francisco Bay Area. This experience will vary depending on your location and service providers used.
The TEW 655BR3G shares a shortcoming with other Trendnet routers like the full-size TEW 639GR : its signal stability could be better.
The router failed our 24-hour stress test in which it was set to transfer data from multiple wireless devices continuously. We found that the signal was reset once during this time. However, we think that this shortcoming is acceptable and won't have much of an effect in real-life usage, but Trendnet says it will soon release a firmware update to improve the router's functionally.
Service and support
Trendnet backs the TEW 655BR3G with a generous three-year warranty (compared with one year for most routers). The company's toll-free technical phone support is available 24-7 for the lifespan of the product. Trendnet's Web site offers comprehensive self-help tools including the Configuration Emulator, which shows the look and feel of the router's Web interface and its features. There are also other download materials such as manuals and the latest firmware.