About the size of a handheld, the silver, 2.2-ounce WL-330 is smaller than and one-third the weight of Apple's AirPort Express. Even with its tiny AC adapter and short Cat-5 jumper cable packed away inside the included soft travel case, the whole kit weighs 9.2 ounces and can be easily stashed inside a laptop travel case. The box includes a CD bearing software and manuals, a printed quick-start guide, and a USB power cable.
Setup is simple, and the printed guide walks you through the process. A standard setup merely requires you to connect the WL-330 to a broadband source with an Ethernet cable. It takes all of three minutes to get online, and it worked on our first try.
Security is a step behind the rest of the wireless world, with only 64- or 128-bit Wired Equivalent Protection (WEP) encryption. The WL-330 lacks the stronger Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA); updating the unit's firmware to version 2.02 adds passwords to the device. The WL-330 can lock out clients based on MAC address, but it doesn't include a firewall.
Even though it's tiny, the WL-330 can act as either an Ethernet-to-802.11b adapter or as a miniature access point. Plug it into the Ethernet port of a notebook, a game console, or a desktop, flip the switch on the back of the unit to the adapter setting, and adjust the WL-330's network settings via the unit's browser-based configuration tool. You can power the unit with either the AC adapter or the included USB cable.
Over the course of a week of hard use, the WL-330 proved to be powerful and reliable, although a couple of times it stopped broadcasting for a moment or two, only to immediately restore service. It connected to six Wi-Fi clients--old and new--funneling data throughout a small office, and it was able to stream video to one client while another was listening to Internet radio and a third was downloading data from a Web site. On the other hand, it had a disappointing indoor range of only 65 feet; Apple's AirPort Express delivered about twice that range. For a hotel room, however, this should suffice.
The WL-330's one-year warranty is on a par with those available for competing products, such as Netgear's WGR101 and Apple's AirPort Express, and unlike Apple, Asus supports the equipment for as long as you own it. The company's tech-support line is a toll call and is open from only 8:30 a.m. to midnight (ET), Monday through Friday, but on three occasions nobody answered, so messages were left; sadly, these calls were not returned.
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