Anyone who travels knows there’s some inconveniences that can’t be avoided — back in the day that might be having to pay extra to make a phone call from a hotel, but now it’s all about wireless access. Travelers expect WiFi in their hotel room, but sometimes all they get is a wired wall connection to plug into. Or an added fee if “wireless” is part of the room’s billings. That’s why it’s important to understand how WiFi works. But those visiting relatives or going to summer homes have just as much trouble when it comes to WiFI, because joining an existing network might not be possible or cause fits to those who own it. Either way, D-Link’s AC750 Wi-Fi Portable Router and Charger will take care of that and then some.
The AC750 is bigger than most routers of its genre: being about the size of one of today’s smartphones, complete with a smooth exterior and a muted off-white color. Perhaps the size is a function of it having 802.11ac wireless technology: D-Link says it’s the first of its kind to employ the faster wireless technology. The simple “candy bar” design places its user-accessible parts primarily on one side: consisting of two USB sockets (the top side placed charging a phone/tablet, accessing a thumb drive/storage device or a 3G/4G USB cellular modem, the bottom side placed similar except for the modem and tablet). At the bottom is found a micro-USB slot for charging the 4000mAH internal battery and an Ethernet port for wired access, while the top provides the “mode” switch (selectable between ON/OFF/CHARGER) and a WPS button for quick connecting to a router. Tiny LED lights indicate status functions.
There are a number of ways in which the AC750 can be used — all involving WiFi and networking. One is to use it with a cellular modem for mobile use (i.e., outside, in a car, etc.). Another method involves directly connected it to a router for use as a “hot spot” for multiple users; I found this extremely helpful when I was helping an elderly neighbor who wanted to see a YouTube video her granddaughter had put only, but her old Windows computer couldn’t cut it. I connected the AC750 to her router (she had no WiFi), established a WiFi network and then was able to show the video to her on my iPad.
The other ways in which it can be used goes beyond that of simply providing a connection to the Internet. Streaming content can be accessed, providing that a thumb drive or other USB storage device has been plugged into the AC750. This then finds its way to the mobile device that is running the free Sharepoint app. Thanks to having two USB sockets, it is possible to increase the amount of content that can be streamed — I’d rather use multiple GB thumb drives that lug around or use a USB hard drive, no matter how small they are these days. The app also allows for a private Cloud mode, and has features to restrict others when using it (i.e., the “Guest Zone” mode). I’ve used other D-Link products with the app for streaming and didn’t find the process any different, but yes faster it seemed on average due to the 802.11ac wireless. What’s more important is the stability that the AC750 provided for what it was doing, be that Internet accessibility or content sharing. I didn’t give it any special treatment and used it primarily with it standing upright. Granted that lying flat it would be less likely to tip over, but my “rabbit antenna ears” muscle memory had me thinking that would be for the best.
The “mode” switch on top can be used to turn the AC750 into a charging device only — this works best when charging a tablet. The instructions say that you can charge a smartphone while also using the router’s functionality, but I‘d avoid doing that unless absolutely necessary as I’ve found most devices are at their most stable when the power supply isn’t being diverted from the WiFi transmission system. Obviously this doesn’t apply if the AC750 is being powered by the included AC power supply.
Recently I had to kill some time at the airport while waiting for my flight and rather than draining storage space from my iPhone, I streamed across a movie from a thumb drive placed in the AC750. Obviously I had first had it join the airport’s free WiFi — a process no different that if I had done it in a Starbucks or retail store offering free WiFi via the web browser. The AC750 had plenty of juice to run the movie, although I imagine if I had tried to use it for charging my phone, and then returned to the router’s functioning, the amount of “ON” time the battery is rated for use would have decreased significantly.
Bottom line: D-Link’s AC750 Wi-Fi Portable Router and Charger is more feature-laden than others of its type, but never forgets that the main job is to wireless. The $119.99 retail device is all over that, thanks to 802.11ac which enables it to provide both a stable and fast connection.