Several weeks ago, we published a roundup of N150 travel routers. All of the included products were based on "N150" single-stream technology. In that roundup, I thought that we had seen most of the form factors and feature sets that were likely to see in small, travel-oriented routers. But I was wrong.
This time, I'm llooking at two N300 class travel routers, Buffalo's WMR-300 AirStation N300 Wireless Travel Router and NETGEAR's PR2000 Trek N300 Travel Router and Range Extender. Only two routers makes for a mighty small round-up. But when we put the call out to manufacturers for their best-selling products, only two came in for this category.
With prices just slightly higher that the N150 class devices, you'd expect a bump in performance. But as we learned with the N150 routers, for this category, neither price nor performance are likely to be the deciding factors. Instead, ease of setup and feature set will tell you which one to buy.
Both routers are "N300" class, meaning that they support dual-stream 802.11n with a maximum link rate of 300 Mbps in the 40 MHz bandwidth mode and 130 Mbps in the recommended 20 MHz mode. Both routers provide basic routing and connection sharing for wired Ethernet connections as well as an AP (access point) mode. Both connected to the internet by merely plugging an Ethernet cable into my network and plugging them into power.
To help you to sort through key features, I complied the same chart used for the N150 travel routers. The chart should also make it easy to compare the N300 routers to the previously-reviewed N150 routers. Data was derived from product specification sheets, user manuals and, in some cases, contact with product marketing departments.
|Buffalo AirStation WMR-300N||NETGEAR Trek PR2000|
|Form Factor||Matchbook||Soap Bar|
|Power Source||USB built-in cable||USB/AC|
|Included Power supply||N||N/A|
|Included Ethernet cable||Y||N|
|Dimensions (mm)||33 X 33 X 20 (no case)||86 X 86 X 32|
|Weight||49G (1.7 oz) (no case)||179G (6.3 oz)|
|Chipset||Media Tek MT7620N||Media Tek MT7620N|
|Reset button||Y (Pin reset)||Y (Pin reset)|
|Default router address||192.168.13.1||192.168.168.1|
|WPS Pushbutton||Y||N (Software only)|
|WPS Pin Code||Y||Y|
|Wired LAN Port||N||Yes (1 or 2)|
|SSID # (Guest Network)||3 + Guest||1|
|USB port||N||1 (sharing/printing/charging)|
|DHCP Client List||Y||Y|
|QOS||WMM||WMM + Rules|
|UPnP||Y||Y (with table)|
|Included accessories||Snap on storage cover||Micro USB power cable|
Table 1: Feature Table
As you can see from the product collage above, the N300 travel routers come in two slightly different form factors than the N150 devices. The Buffalo AirStation WMR-300 is a two piece design that I call a "match book" style. The router itself only measures 1.25" X 1.25" X 0.79". It's powered by a built-in USB "pig tail" that you can connect to a USB power supply or to a USB port on a laptop. The maximum power consumption is 4.95W, so it's just below the 0.5 amp rating of a standard USB port.
A convenient snap-on case allows for storage of the included 23" flat Ethernet cable. On the front of the WMR-300 you'll find two LED indicators as well as an AOSS / WPS button. The internet Access LED shows whether (solid green) or not (blinking green) you're connected to the Internet. The Power LED is a multi-color LED that can show you, using color and blink sequences, diagnostic information. You can decode the various colors and blink sequences in the instruction manual which you can download here. Bottom line - if you see two solid green LEDs, the WMR-300 is working properly and is connected to the Internet.
The AOSS (AirStation One-Touch Secure System) allows you to securely connect to AOSS-enabled wireless clients and doubles as a WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) button. On the bottom, you'll find the 10/100 Ethernet port that is used either for your wired WAN or Bridged connection as well as a pin reset hole.
Buffalo WMR-300 router and case
The NETGEAR PR2000 uses a modified "wall wart" form factor. Not only can you plug it into AC power, you can also power it using the included Micro USB cable. The PR2000 also features an antenna that you can rotate for better range.
On the front panel, there are individual single color LEDs for power, Internet Wi-Fi and USB. There are no complicated blinking diagnostic sequences. Four solid green indicators shows that everything is working and that a USB device has been recognized. You can download the User Guide here.
On the top of the unit, there's a three position "Internet Via" slide switch. The center position is off (recommended position when plugging in). The other two positions let you select whether you'll be using a wired or a wireless connection for your Internet connection.
The image below, taken from the PR2000 user guide, shows the rear of the product with its two 10/100 Ethernet ports. In the Wired Internet position the device acts as a standard router. You plug your WAN connection into the blue Internet/LAN port. The yellow port gives you a standard 10/100 Mbps wired LAN connection. When the switch is in the Wireless position, the blue port becomes a second wired LAN port.
NETGEAR PR2000 rear panel callout
The rear of the device has a USB port that can be used for file sharing, print sharing, or for charging USB-powered mobile devices. The maximum power supplied by the USB port is 900 mA at 5 VDC - just shy of the 1 A required by some of the higher powered USB devices.
You can access files stored on the inserted USB storage device through the network neighborhood, via HTTP or FTP (disabled by default). For printer sharing, you'll need to download and install the ReadySHARE printer utility available here. Also on the rear panel, there's a PIN reset that you can use to return the device to factory defaults.