Vodafone Mobile Wi-Fi R201 “Mi-Fi” wireless-broadband router – raising the bar for this class of device.

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From the horse’s mouth

Vodafone Mobile Wi-Fi R201 – Product page

My comments on this device

I have come across most of the small wireless-broadhand Wi-Fi routers and most of them seem to offer the same functionality – working just as a wireless router for wireless-broadband services. But the Vodafone Mobile Wi-Fi R201 has offered more than the typical device of its class.

This battery-operated device has a built-in microSD card and is able to work as a network-attached storage device as well as a router for wireless broadband. It can present the files via three different protocols – SMB/CIFS, HTTP or UPnP AV / DLNA for media files. The latter function is provided for by TwonkyMedia Server which is being integrated in to many network-attached storage devices.

It can be powered from AC power, USB or integrated rechargeable batteries but, due to its small size, it doesn’t have an Ethernet connector for either LAN or WAN (broadband) connectivity. An Ethernet connector being added to the device could allow the unit to become a NAS / wireless access point for an existing network or it could work with a cable or ADSL modem as a router. As well, it is dependent on the Wi-Fi network as the primary connection method.

The unit can work tightly with Windows 7 or with other operating systems and devices that support WPS, especially the PBC “push-to-connect” method. As well, the PSK passphrase for the WPA2 security setup and the SSID are unique to each unit, which makes for better security.

Another feature is that this particular “Mi-Fi” can work alongside the network-connected computers as an SMS send/receive terminal. This is done using a Web form that is part of the Web management interface for this device.

My comments about this device is that it would work hand in glove with a portable Internet radio like the Pure Evoke Flow that I previously reviewed as long as you have a generous data plan on the SIM card for receiving Internet-radio programs. This is intensified by you putting a microSD card full of music or a SlotMusic card (the microSD equivalent of the pre-recorded Musicassette) in this device and using the radio’s DLNA music-player mode to play the music files from the card.

As well, I would recommend that users who buy this device buy a USB car charger that plugs in to the vehicle’s cigar lighter in order to avoid compromising the device’s battery life when they use it in the car. This charger should have a standard USB socket on itself or a microUSB plug that fits the device.

By the way, it is worth noting that this router is now available in the UK and will be rolled out to countries that Vodafone does business in as a name.

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