Barely larger than a pendrive, the D-Link Le Petit (model DWR-510) is an interesting Internet connectivity device. Two simple functions are provided for - functionality as a 3G USB dongle, and Wi-Fi router sharing of the 3G connection.
This device not only offers functionality like the MTS Mblaze, but also makes for a useful combination, like the Tata Docomo 3G Wi-Fi Hub and Asus WL-330N3G devices that we have previously reviewed. You can insert the SIM card of any mobile service provider, as long as GPRS/EDGE or 3G service is enabled on it. The claimed "3.75 G" in simple terms, translates to HSPA support, up to 7.2 Mbps downstream and 5.76 Mbps upstream.
A tiny switch on this device lets you toggle between Modem mode and Router mode. In modem mode, it is a standard USB dongle, providing 3G Internet connectivity to the one computer you have plugged it into. In Wi-Fi router mode, more than one PC can get linked up to the Internet.
The Le Petit draws power from its USB port, so you can plug it into either a laptop/desktop computer's USB port, or into an AC adapter. When plugged in over USB, you can see a virtual CD drive that pops up from the built-in flash memory. After installing the software, D-Link Connection Manager (for Windows XP or later), you can get to the configuration tool:
When connected over Wi-Fi, you can use the Web-based configuration:
Admittedly simple in purpose, you don't really get to configure settings at a micro-level the way dedicated wireless routers can. But the available controls are good for its form factor and intended purpose. You can connect up to ten wireless devices at a time, to access the Internet, share files and other network resources, over the LAN.
Wireless communication can be encrypted using the current security standard, WPA2-PSK. As with a number of other tiny Wi-Fi devices, the Le Petit supports 802.11 b/g/n which means wireless LAN speeds upto 150 Mbps are supported.
I did not expect this pocket-sized wireless router to put on performance of the sort seen in full-fledged ones. But it was not too bad at all, in file transfer tests and range performance. The device did not like over three wireless machines exchanging large files simultaneously, and slowed down drastically at such times. As for usable signal range, a distance of 15 feet with obstructions and woodwork was still usable for WLAN access.
The box in which the D-Link Le Petit comes, is petite indeed. One improvement the package could have done with, was the inclusion of a power adapter (USB to AC power) cable. D-Link offers a one year warranty upon this product.
Being deceptively small, the D-Link Le Petit (DWR-510) is a good product that brings together formerly disparate functionality into a single device. The days of first plugging in a 3G dongle over USB and then looking to share the Internet connection through a Wireless Router, are past. However, the range/user limitations would make it clear that it is aimed at single-room SoHo/offices and high-end users.?
To the extent that a 3G modem cum Wi-Fi router is no more a breath-taking innovation. The good news is that market glut will swiftly drive the price down, at which point it would be a great buy for the traveling business user.