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APC 3-in-1 Wireless Mobile Router review: APC 3-in-1 Wireless Mobile Router

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MSRP: $69.99

The Good Compact design; WPA security; SPI firewall, VPN, and DMZ support; unlimited, toll-free phone support.

The Bad Slow throughput at long range; mediocre maximum throughput; confusing documentation; won't power up via a laptop USB port.

The Bottom Line The APC 3-in-1 Wireless Mobile Router can't match the ease of use, range, or warranty of the travel-router competition.

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5.1 Overall
  • Setup 4
  • Features 6
  • Performance 5
  • Support 6

APC 3-in-1 Wireless Mobile Router

When you're kicking it in your hotel room after a long day on the road, the last thing you want to do is sit at the room's uncomfortable desk, close to the Ethernet jack, to check your e-mail. APC's 3-in-1 Wireless Mobile Router can transform that jack into a wireless hot spot, letting you lie in bed while working online. Toting this small, light device along on your travels is easy, and its support for WPA, SPI firewall, and VPN capabilities helps your data remain secure. There's just one problem: the 3Com Office Connect Travel Router offers all of this--plus easier setup, better range, and a longer warranty--for the same price.

Like a lot of travel routers, including the 3Com and the SMC SMCWTK-G EZ Connect Wireless Travelers Kit, the compact APC Wireless Mobile Router is about the same size as the fourth-generation Apple iPod. It also offers some of the same design features as its competitors, such as an Ethernet jack, a power port, and a reset button on the back edge, along with three LED status lights on its face indicating power, wireless, and Ethernet connectivity. APC bundles the requisite AC adapter, Ethernet cable, and USB cable with the device, though you can't plug the latter into your laptop's USB port to draw power. Less conveniently, the USB cable connects the Wireless Mobile Router to APC's optional TravelPower Adapter, which means you have to buy and carry yet another device.

Installing the APC 3-in-1 Wireless Mobile Router is an exercise in frustration, due to its poor documentation. First, the installation guide instructs you to connect the router to your broadband modem; a few steps later, it tells you to plug the APC into your computer's Ethernet jack. The guide then attempts to describe how to configure the device in its three operating modes--access point, router, and client--via the browser-based configuration tool, yet the instructions contain misinformation in some sections. Navigating through the longer user manual is equally irritating, since it's missing several pages.

If you can muster the patience to make heads or tails of its documentation, you'll find that the APC 3-in-1 Wireless Mobile Router offers a decent list of features. The device provides both WEP and WPA security, as well as a firewall that provides SPI (stateful packet inspection) and NAT functionality. The APC Wireless Mobile Router offers support for VPN pass-throughs, which lets you tap into your office VPN from remote locations, and its DMZ support allows you place one of your computer's ports outside the firewall without exposing your entire system.

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