Wi-Fi and dual-Ethernet support
Wi-Fi and dual-Ethernet support
Whether you’re at home or on the road, Netgear’s Trek travel router could be the missing piece of your networking puzzle.
Similar to Apple’s AirPort Express, the Netgear Trek N300 travel router can act as a range extender on your home Wi-Fi network. You can plug the Trek into any power point, make a wireless link back to your main base station, and then relay the Wi-Fi signal to those hard-to-reach corners of your home.
When the Trek is connected to your wireless network, you can use its two built-in Ethernet ports to connect internet-enabled gear to your home network – using the Trek as a wireless bridge. For example, if your Smart TV features an Ethernet port but not built-in Wi-Fi, then you could connect your Smart TV to the internet by connecting it to the Trek via an Ethernet cable, and then linking the Trek to your Wi-Fi network.
Alternatively, you can run an Ethernet cable from your broadband modem to the Trek’s 10/100-megabit Internet/LAN port, and then use the Trek to generate a Wi-Fi network. While you’re doing this, you can still connect nearby devices to the second Ethernet port. The inclusion of two Ethernet ports, similar to the new generation of AirPort Expresses, offers an extra level of flexibility compared to many third-party Wi-Fi range extenders.
A small power switch on the top lets you configure the Trek for wired or wireless access to your existing home network. You can also swivel the back of the Trek to point upwards, exposing the LED activity lights while also extending the antenna to offer better coverage.
The Trek is easy to set up. When you first power it up, you can connect to it via Wi-Fi or Ethernet to configure it via a web browser. In Wi-Fi mode it scans for nearby networks and gives you the option of extending one, while in Ethernet mode you can create a Wi-Fi network. The Trek remembers your settings as profiles, so you don’t need to go through this set-up procedure every time.
The Trek is certainly a handy way to deal with Wi-Fi black spots around your home, although it’s worth noting that it doesn’t support 5GHz networks. If you’re running a 5GHz 802.11n network around your home, perhaps to avoid interference on the 2.4GHz band, then you’ll be better served by one of Netgear’s other Wi-Fi extenders or perhaps Apple’s AirPort Express.
Don’t dismiss the Trek too quickly though because, as the name suggests, it has a few extra features to offer when you slip it in your travel bag and take it on the road. It’s designed to be the central hub of a mobile office, extending hotel Wi-Fi/Ethernet connections or any other networks at your disposal. It even has a built-in firewall to help keep you safe if you’re connecting to a public network.
For extra flexibility, the Trek can even run off the power from your computer’s USB port via a built-in micro-USB port, but there’s no built-in battery. You’ll also find a full-sized USB port for charging your mobile devices via the Trek, cutting down on the need for an extra power point to charge your smartphone or tablet.
Alternatively, you can attach USB storage and access it from the various devices connected to your network via Samba, FTP or HTTP. You can also hook up a USB printer.
These days most Mac users would prefer 5GHz Wi-Fi support around their home. The Netgear Trek is more attractive for people on the road, although if you travel light you may find it overkill. Road warriors looking to set up a mobile office on the go will find it the most useful.