ASUS WL-330NUL Pocket Router Review
Abbas Jaffar Ali
It wasn’t too long back when I bought the Apple Airport Express and was amazed by the size and portability. I’ve seen routers get smaller and more portable which is just a natural progression of technology but then the ASUS WP-330NUL landed in our office and I was left as amazed as the Airport Express a few years earlier. ASUS advertises it as the world’s smallest router and I have no issues believing that.
Measuring 65×20.7×15.4mm which is about the same as standard sized USB drive and weighing under 18 grams, the ASUS WP-330NUL really makes you appreciate technology. All you see is a USB connector on one end and an RJ45 port on the other. Had I not known, I would have just disregarded the WP-330NUL as a USB Ethernet adapter- which is one of its functions and one that works very well as I’ll explain a bit later. Besides acting as a USB wired Ethernet or wireless adapter, the WL-330NUL also acts a as fully functional Wireless Router. It comes bundled with a USB power charger but can supposedly be powered using a portable power bank or your computer’s USB port. A one trick pony, the WL-330NUL certainly isn’t.
Coincidentally, the WL-330NUL landed on my desk a few days before I was off to a press trip with my MacBook Air. I took it with me because the MacBook Air doesn’t have a LAN port and, at times, Wi-Fi at press conferences tends to give up which is exactly what happened. Not having tested the ASUS WL-330 at all, I literally took it out of the packaging in the middle of the press event and plugged it into my MacBook Air. Within a matter of seconds, I was online without having to do anything at all except plug the LAN cable to the other end of the ASUS WL-330NUL. After getting back to Dubai, I tried the WL-330NUL on a Windows 7 based machine, however, it required a driver which is available on the unit itself. I’ve been told that Windows 8 does not require any drivers but our office is intentionally Windows 8 free.
The next thing that was tested on the WL-330NUL was it acting as a Wireless Router. Again, this was just a matter of plugging your DHCP powered Internet connection to the router. Sadly PPPoA or PPPoE based connections that require a username or password won’t work as this is pretty much a zero configuration device. Once you have the device connected, you access the admin interface using a code printed on the device
I wasn’t expecting a stellar Wi-Fi range from a device that is the size of an average USB drive however, it did manage to get the signal across our entire office which is roughly 10 sq. mt. There were areas where the signal was half but the WL-330NUL isn’t really expected to be used as a full-fledged router but one that can be used in a hotel room when traveling.
Priced at AED 135 (US$36), I am mighty impressed with the ASUS WL-330NUL. The fact that it can be powered over USB makes it extremely portable and considering its size, you would have no issue taking it with you. It would be awesome if ASUS manages to add a SIM slot in the next version which can allow the router to be used almost anywhere with a power bank. But even as it is, I’d highly recommend the WL-330NUL is you travel often and need to set up wireless access or have a laptop that doesn’t feature an RJ port.