Go baby mobile Dongle Dock review
Go baby mobile’s Dongle Dock is a tiny portable wireless router with a USB socket for a 3G modem dongle. It has a built-in battery, but is mainly designed to be used in a car, in a boat or in a caravan, to let your whole family’s laptops, smartphones and tablets access the 3G dongle’s internet connection.
The Dock has a single Mini USB socket on the rear, and a standard USB host port on the top. You plug your dongle into the top host port, but the rear Mini USB socket is just for power; the manual warns that plugging it into a computer may cause damage, and our test laptop’s USB ports weren’t powerful enough to power the Dock. It comes with an 1,800mAh battery, and lasted for four hours and seven minutes with a 3G dongle plugged in and with a laptop pinging the router constantly. There's also a car cigarette lighter USB adaptor and a mains USB plug, as well as an Ethernet-to-USB cable which you can use to connect to a PC’s network port or to share a cable modem’s internet connection.
Setting up the dock is fairly simple. The network is unsecured at first, so you can log straight on and go to the web interface. The Dongle Dock is a fully-fledged router, complete with advanced features such as port forwarding, Quality of Service (QoS) bandwidth management, Dynamic DNS and UPnP. You can even set up multiple guest networks which are isolated from the main network. The interface is clear, but the English help text can be odd in places.
Clicking the Wizard button takes you through choosing your internet connection type; using a 3G dongle, DHCP or static IP and DNS addresses for connecting via a router, or PPPoE for cable modems. The setup page for 3G dongles lets you choose your country and 3G network provider, and will fill in any necessary information for you, such as APN, username and password. You can also enter your PIN if your SIM card is locked. The next step is to set the name of the Dongle Dock’s wireless network and set up WEP or WPA encryption. The Dock’s wireless transfer speeds were far slower than those from a normal router, though, managing just 16.9Mbit/s at 1m and 8.9Mbit/s at 10m and unable to maintain a connection at 25m range. It's easily fast enough for a 3G data connection, though.
We had no problems getting the Dongle Dock to work with two of the 3 network’s branded dongles – the Huawei E1750 (which has now been replaced by the E353) and the Premium E367 HSPA+ model. The web interface’s status page updates constantly to let you know whether your dongle is working: from recognising the dongle to activating the modem to connecting to the network, so if your dongle fails to connect you can see whether it’s a problem with the Dock recognising the dongle or if your network settings are wrong.
At £60, the Dongle Dock compares favourably with portable 3G wireless hotspots such as the 3 MiFi. The MiFi is £85 on prepay, while a Dongle Dock and a 3G dongle together will cost you £80-£90 depending on which network provider you go with. The Dongle Dock’s ability to connect to a cable modem or router makes it more versatile and it has some more advanced features than the MiFi, and its included cigarette lighter adaptor makes it more suitable for in-car use. If you’d like the freedom to share any USB dongle you’d like wirelessly, it’s a good buy.
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