When you travel, you probably have a number of devices that demand connectivity. However, a lot of venues limit your allowed devices, and maybe you don’t want your devices out on the open network. Additionally, you may want to use streaming devices or shared storage in your room, and that may not work with typical public network setups.
Today on rsts11travel we’ll look at a couple of options for aggregating, optimizing, and even protecting your connectivity on a public hotspot, hotel network, or even on your own cellular connection.
There are three schemes we’ll consider in this series.
- Connecting multiple devices to wifi
- Connecting multiple devices to a wired network
- Connecting multiple devices through a mobile hotspot/cellular modem
A caveat up front with regard to security and obfuscation: Not all of these options offer the same level of security for your devices, and most will not limit visibility of your connectivity as far as the facility staff, the ISP, or others on your network is concerned. Nothing in this series should be taken as replacing your OS and application updates, antivirus and anti-malware/anti-spyware software, and of course realization that security is subjective.
Connecting multiple devices to wifi
The most common case is that you have a public or accessible wifi service, whether in a coffee shop, airport, hotel, or convention center. While one hotel I recently stayed at offered free wireless access for 99 devices, not all venues offer such volume, and sometimes you may want to share a premium connection rather than each device having its own basic connection.
I’ve used a number of devices for this functionality. The three I’ll mention each also offer a USB charging function, so you can bump up your battery while routing and even sharing files within your own network.
- RavPower RP-WD02 travel router, about $34, 6000mAh battery
- HooToo Tripmate Titan, about $47, 10000mAh battery
- Hootoo does have a smaller 6000mAh device, the Elite Travel Router, at $30. However I have not used it and can’t speak to how well it works.
- Invizbox Go, $99, 5000mAh battery
All three of these devices will connect to a wifi hotspot and allow secured connectivity to themselves. They each charge via MicroUSB, and offer a USB charging port to bump the power on your phone or tablet. Obviously if you charge your device, that will reduce the battery life for the router function, so you may wish to operate these plugged into the wall whenever possible.
The RavPower and HooToo devices support Ethernet connectivity as well, as well as a NAS function (RavPower with MicroSD or USB drive, HooToo with USB).
For most of the last year, I’ve had the Titan in my laptop bag, and have used it in hotels across the country. Main reason for this was the battery size, since sometimes I can use the extra juice and still have a couple of days of router power.
I’ll be warming up the RavPower box in the near future to take more advantage of the microSD NAS function as well as some streaming with my new Chromecast Ultra. One quirk I was reminded of on the RavPower is that you need a flash drive installed to do a firmware upgrade. This may have been the case for Hootoo as well, but I haven’t upgraded it in a while (and I seem to have misplaced it, hence the stock photos above).
The Invizbox Go doesn’t support NAS or Ethernet, but it does distinguish itself with a subscription VPN platform as well as TOR network service. Currently, you pre-purchase the IPVanish VPN subscription when you buy the hardware (the $99 quoted price includes 2 months; 1 year and lifetime options are available). We’re waiting to hear back from Invizbox about renewal and direct/alternate purchase options for the VPN account.
Our Invizbox Go came in about a week ago, and we’ll have a more detailed review of it in a couple of weeks.
So where do we go from here?
Coming up in this series, we’ll look at some options for sharing a primarily wired network connection as well as sharing a cellular modem with more functionality than a typical carrier hotspot. We’ll also talk a bit more about VPN service options.
What do you use for your mobile network connectivity? Do you stream on the go with an HDMI target, or a tablet, or just go with the pay-per-view on the hotel television? Share your thoughts in the comments, or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosure: Most links are Amazon affiliate links, and rsts11 may get a commission if you purchase through them. The three routers mentioned above (not including the smaller Hootoo) were purchased out of our own wallets, with no consideration or review by the sellers in question.