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SMC SMCWTK-G Traveler's Kit review: SMC SMCWTK-G Traveler's Kit

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MSRP: $99.99

The Good Compact design; acts as a Wi-Fi access point, adapter, or repeater; WPA support; easy setup; handy mounting bracket.

The Bad Doesn't support dial-up connections; mediocre performance; short warranty.

The Bottom Line The SMCWTK-G is a fast, easy way to add Wi-Fi to an Ethernet connection, but we like 3Com's travel router a little better.

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6.4 Overall
  • Setup 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6
  • Support 7

SMC SMCWTK-G EZ Connect Wireless Traveler's Kit

The SMC SMCWTK-G EZ Connect Wireless Traveler's Kit takes the bite out of business trips by establishing a Wi-Fi connection in any Ethernet-equipped hotel room, letting you use your laptop or PDA to work from anywhere within the room, not just from the uncomfortable desk where the RJ-45 jack usually resides. Aside from its wireless access point capability, the SMCWTK-G can also serve as a bridge or a repeater. Each of these modes includes basic Wi-Fi settings, such as WPA, which the device's helpful installation guide and manual make fairly easy to configure. The tiny travel router's compact design helps you conserve precious suitcase space. While the Wireless Traveler's Kit can't help you in dial-up-only hotels (check out the Always On Wireless WiFlyer for dual dial-up/broadband support), it will certainly make your life more pleasant in Ethernet-based environments. Overall, we liked 3Com's travel router better than SMC's, mostly because of the better range offered by the former, but they are very similar in both design and feature set.

The diminutive Wireless Traveler's Kit is no bigger than a standard deck of cards. It includes a full-size Ethernet jack on its back edge, along with a power port and a reset button. The top of the device features three informative status lights, indicating Ethernet, wireless, and power connections. The unit has a handy mounting bracket built into the bottom for hanging high on a wall, where you're likely to get a better signal, which is really valuable only if you use the device in a fixed location. The Wireless Traveler's Kit ships with an Ethernet cable, a small AC adapter, and a USB cable, should you want the device to draw power through your computer's USB port rather than a standard wall power outlet. The adapter and all of its accessories fit inside the included carrying case, which is relatively small and not too bulky for traveling.

Setting up the SMC is about as easy as it gets for a wireless device. The installation guide gives a nearly complete explanation of all steps, which involve little more than plugging the device into your PC's Ethernet jack, installing the router's configuration utility, and syncing up your computer's IP address to the SMC's. You can then alter the kit's modes (client, access point, repeater, point-to-point bridge, point-to-multipoint bridge) and corresponding security settings via the typical browser-based tool. Though it lacks the extensive settings of more full-featured wireless APs and routers, the SMC still covers the security basics. Depending on which mode you're in, the device includes WEP and/or WPA support, as well as SSID shielding and MAC address filtering.

CNET Labs maximum throughput tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Throughput in Mbps  

CNET Labs mixed-mode tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Throughput in Mbps  

CNET Labs range tests
(Range 200 feet)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Throughput in Mbps  

CNET Labs' tests showed that the SMCWTK-G EZ Connect Wireless Traveler's Kit delivers fast throughput at close range, but it is not the best choice for long-range scenarios or in situations where you'll be connecting with both 802.11g and 802.11b devices, as demonstrated in our Labs mixed-mode test results. In our informal tests of the Wireless Traveler's Kit as an access point, the device performed well enough to serve its purpose: occasional use in small areas. In the words of Windows XP's wireless utility, our 802.11g-equipped laptop was still receiving a "very good" signal at a horizontal distance of more than 25 feet from the SMC--about the width of the average hotel room. However, when we went up a floor from where the SMC was located, our signal strength decreased to very low. This could pose a problem for you if you intend to use the device as a repeater or a bridge, since you may want to connect the router to equipment located on different floors.

The Wireless Traveler's Kit ships with a short one-year warranty, though toll-free, around-the-clock telephone support is available for the lifetime of the product. The searchable FAQ database on SMC's support Web site is an odd beast; every common word or acronym we tried (SSID, WPA, WEP) in relation to the device yielded just one result: its press release. After some hunting, we successfully located the adapter's firmware in the free downloads section of the site.

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