Aztech HW550-3G: Don't let an internet outage ruin your day

Starvation, swine flu and environmental apocalypse are all pretty terrifying, but not as frightening as losing your Internet connection. The Aztech HW550-3G can make sure it doesn't happen

Can you imagine what would happen if your Internet connection went off for some reason? Calm down, try to contain your panic, it hasn't happened -- but you don't know it isn't about to. If such an event occurred, how would you send Twitter updates, IM your friends or look at amusing pictures of cats? It doesn't bear thinking about, does it? Happily, there's a solution of sorts, which should prevent you from ever having to go offline, unless there's an apocalypse of some description.

The Aztech HW550-3G is first and foremost an 802.11n router, which enables you to connect your wireless devices to your home network at speeds of up to 300Mbps. But the Aztech also has the cunning ability to make use of 3G dongles , which can be connected via a USB socket at the rear of the unit. This means if you're unlucky enough to have your home Web connection go down, you'll be able to get surfing again via 3G. And with so many people having dongles now, it's the sort of thing that might be handy either during emergencies, or in places where there's no fixed-line Internet connection.

Wired computers aren't forgotten about either, because the Aztech has a four-port 10/100 Ethernet connection. There's also a single-port WAN socket for connecting the router to your existing ADSL or cable modem, making it handy for people who don't already have a wireless router. The usual security features come as standard, with wireless encryption being the most important. There's also NAT for basic firewall security and a proper packet-filtering firewall, for people who really want to make sure they aren't attacked.

It's worth pointing out that not every type of dongle is supported, but popular models from ZTE, Huawei and Option are. You should obviously check that yours is before you go investing in the HW550-3G. The good news is even if the 3G connectivity doesn't interest you, you can use the USB socket to connect a networked printer instead -- handy if you want to tuck your printer out of the way in a cupboard or something.

The Aztech HW-550-3G is available from Solwise in the UK and costs around £54. All you have to do now is hope that there isn't some sort of apocalypse that wipes out both wireless and fixed-line communications, because we've yet to find any way to look at LOLcats when that dreaded day comes.

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