A few years ago Apple put out their Airport Express — basically it was a portable router that plugged directly into an AC outlet for convenience. While not the first to do this, Apple’s model caught consumer attention for ease of use. But due to a lack of marketing attention, it has languished.
Not so with the D-Link DIR-505 All-in-One Mobile Companion. D-Link has taken the router portability concept and beefed it up to the point where it’s a valid buy for the home network user as well as the “road warrior.” At its heart, the D-Link DIR-505 All-in-One Mobile Companion is a portable router. But it’s in how easily and sensibly that it performs this task that its value can be found.
Quick note: You might want to check out the included Quick Install guide — as it provides codes for a mobile app to use with iOS/Android devices. You’d find out about this later, but worth noting now, I think.
The D-Link DIR-505 All-in-One Mobile Companion can be used in three configurations — all of which affects the wireless network; in the router mode, it’s connected directly to a modem and so functions as a wireless network; in Repeater mode it amplifiers and extends an existing wireless network; in Wi-Fi hotspot mode it becomes the focal point for multiple wireless devices seeking connection through a private network of your choosing.
The setup is as simple for each mode as expected from D-Link. The D-Link DIR-505 All-in-One Mobile Companion plugs directly into an AC outlet — wait for the front-mounted LED to stop blinking and go solid green first.
Set up is simple and I waited to try and use it in a hotel room during a recent trip. I adjusted the top-mounted tab to “Router” and then plugged it into the AC socket. Then I plugged the included Ethernet cable into it and the Ethernet socket in the wall. To set up a wireless network, I just went into the Network settings of the device I wanted to use (could have been a laptop but was an iPad), and entered the necessary information and security codes provided — it’s on a business-side card you can put away in your wallet. Once done, I had a wireless connection.
If I had been at home, or was doing this in a larger space than a hotel room, I could have chosen the “Repeater” mode instead — dissimilar steps to set it up but in general pretty much the same, although you use a web browser as part of the process (http://dlinkrouter.local for Mac or if you’re a Windows person — http://dlinkrouter). I had no need for a private network, but can see where this could be useful with a group that’s on location.
Stepping back a moment, let me note that besides that information card, D-Link includes a flat, rubberized Ethernet cable that takes up much less room that a standard model. A nice addition, thanks.
Because of the simplicity of the D-Link DIR-505 All-in-One Mobile Companion Review, I neglected to give the guided tour. Not that there’s a lot to see — besides the already-noted LED and the toggle tab on top, the bottom finds the Ethernet socket, a reset button next to it and a USB socket at the other end. More on this now.
Accessing stored information — be that data content or multimedia content (i.e., video, music) can be done locally by attaching a USB device (thumb drive, etc.) to that USB socket directly. This obviates the need for accessing from the “Cloud,” and so provides both a greater security for the contents as well as eliminating transmission issues, since it will be streamed locally. D-Link makes an app available to access the storage. It’s called “SharePort” and is designed specifically to access stored multimedia content from a D-Link compatible router such as the D-Link DIR-505 All-in-One Mobile Companion Review. I used it with a variety of content — none of which used exotic file formats — and it all worked fine as a viewing application. I wouldn’t just count on it for all possible uses with the storage, however, so don’t get lazy.
I haven’t gone into discussions of how stable and dependable the 802.11 N wireless transmission from the D-Link DIR-505 All-in-One Mobile Companion is. That should tell you there’s nothing to complain about. In general the signal strength was never too weak to adequately perform in a high-definition environment. Of course there’s little problems space-wise in a hotel room, but in greater spaces I would expect its use would require some accommodation on the part of the user.
I should probably note that there’s a WPS button on the side to initiate an auto protected/security between the D-Link DIR-505 All-in-One Mobile Companion and another device. Those who like such things will find it usable — me, I just go the manual route so I know everything is set up like it should be. For more info on this you should go to the D-Link website and download the digital manual. You can also check into any firmware upgrades here as well — you’d download them on a computer connected to the D-Link DIR-505 All-in-One Mobile Companion and then transfer them over, much in the same manner as you would when using one of D-Link’s other routers.
Bottom line: The D-Link DIR-505 All-in-One Mobile Companion is a device that has dual purposes: those at home can use it to initiate or extend their existing wireless network, while travelers can use it to provide easier networking/local storage access while on-the-go. Regardless of which, you can’t fault the straightforward manner in which the $99 retail D-Link DIR-505 All-in-One Mobile Companion provides networking capabilities.
- SharePort Mobile app works with all D-Link DIR-series routers
- Compact form factor
- USB socket can charge devices
- No extension capabilities for AC plug
- No mention of online manual
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.