The new KR2 mobile router allows for sharing cellular Internet access on the go conveniently.
I recently reviewed the Windy31, a USB wireless router that allows for sharing your computer's existing internet connection with others, and found it a very cool device. Today I got my hands on the Kyocera KR2 Mobile router and its companion, the Kyocera KPC680CDMA ExpressCard, and I have to admit, I never thought mobile internet access could be that good. Still, of course, it's far from perfect.
Let's talk the good first. The KR2 is actually the upgrade to the Kyocera KR1. Significant improvements include: a better design (though still I found it a little bulky and I never like the fact that its antenna crowd the network ports on the back), Draft N 2.0 compliance, Wi-Fi Protected Setup, ExpressCard support and a few other features. The KR2 can also be used as a regular router by having a WAN port for a cable or DSL modem. By supporting ExpressCard, the router now can offer mobile Internet access to multiple users with speed up to 3.1Mbps download and 1.8Mbps upload for each user. This is the fastest speed that the CP680 ExpressCard offers over a Verizon Wireless data plan and about as fast as most regular DSL connections. I tried it out and it was indeed very fast, enough to stream CNET TV video to multiple computers at a time without much delay.
The KR2, on the other hand, has its own shortcomings. For one, it supports only 32 wireless clients at a time (as opposed to 254 by other regular nonmobile routers). Considering its size and specs, I don't see why it can't support more. Secondly, it's expensive: at $250 (though you might get a 15% off for the first purchase), it's about twice the price of most high-end non-mobile Draft N 2.0 routers. Last but not least, the support only CDMA cellular technology, this means two things: First, those with GSM services (like ATT or T-Mobile) won't be able to use it and, second: if you're in an area not covered by one of the CDMA providers, you're out of luck when being mobile.
Obviously, the KR2 isn't for everyone. I found it best suit those who travel in a group like a construction team, people who live or travel in RVs or remote area, where regular broadband services aren't an available. And if you don't need the high Wi-Fi speed of the Draft N 2.0, you can ignore the bulky KR2 and couple the Kyocera CP680 ExpressCard with the tiny Windy31. Those two will do you well, too, in making your mobile cellular Internet connection available to your group.