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Windy31 USB Wireless router: Internet sharing gets a new twist

A little router that works with the USB port to share the computer's existing Internet connection.

You are sitting at the airport and hooked up to the Internet via T-Mobile's Hotspot service that you've been paying $39.99/month for. It's great, and you can afford it. Well, good for you! What about your traveling companions though? You know, the ones who can't afford an extra Internet service and just sit there trying to make conversation with you while you surf through the latest stories at TMZ? Now there's a solution to the guilt of not talking to your companions, and it comes in a tiny package called the Windy31 Wireless Broadband router.

The Windy31 is about the size of a USB thumbdrive and can be plugged directly into a computer's USB port. Dong Ngo

The Windy31 hooks up to a Windows PC's USB port and can create a wireless network by sharing the computer's existing Internet connection with up to 32 other wireless users. There's virtually no set-up involved. The little router, which is about the size of a regular thumbdrive, also has a small built-in storage that contains all the software necessary for it to work. The software launches itself when inserted into a USB port and does the entire configuration process. You then can choose to customize it further, adding encryption, changing the SSID, etc.

Windy31 configuration application allows for customizing a variety of wireless networking options Dong Ngo

Personally, I really like the idea. Even when I travel alone, I always have other devices that could use Internet access: PDAs, VoIP phones, smartphones, portable game consoles, etc. The Windy31 allows for customizing the connection so that it works with any of these devices, especially my Vonage portable IP phone because it doesn't support Wi-Fi services that require logging in via a Web browser.

The Windy31 also comes with a USB docking cradle. Dong Ngo

Even when there's no need for the Internet, the Windy31 allows for creating a wireless LANs instantly on the go. There is so much you can do with a network, including playing games between friends and sharing documents.

The Windy31 Wireless Broadband router supports the 802.11g standard and can work in one of three modes: as a router (by default), an access point, or as a regular USB Wireless adapter. The best part is it costs about the same as a regular USB wireless adapter. At only $60, you can't go wrong with it. Check back on CNET's Web site for a review of the product once I am done putting it through our performance tests. Normally, starting in 2008, only routers supporting the Draft N or later standard are reviewed by CNET, but I'll make an exception this time. That's how cool this little device is.