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  May 14, 2014

Asus WL-330NUL – the Swiss Army Knife of USB, Wi-Fi and Ethernet


We are sure that you already know about travel routers or at least heard about them. They are little and cheap Wi-Fi routers powered by USB and can fit even into your pocket.

Asus WL-330NUL

This is one of them and it requires less space than a pack of gum. It is very versatile, as it can convert Ethernet into Wi-Fi, bypass open, insecure or less secure hotel Wi-Fi and tap into any Ethernet plug nearby.

From the front, the WL-330NUL looks like an iPod 3 Shuffle, but it comes with a built-in USB cable at one end, cable which folds into the device, and an Ethernet port on the other end. Typically, the travel routers require two ports, one connected to Ethernet and the other to the USB port for power, but this one, intelligently detects the port is plugged into and acts accordingly.

To make it clearer, if the device is plugged into a USB power-only port, like a USB AC wall adapter, and into an Ethernet cable, it will automatically convert into a Wi-Fi router. On the other hand, if the device is plugged into a host computer, without attaching an Ethernet cable, it will become a USB Wi-Fi adapter and act like one.

Usually, travel routers are configured through a web admin panel and some people find this is a real pain, because they may be unable to get the admin tool to load and have to master reset the device to put it DNS mode to change the setting. This is happening especially when the device is put into Ethernet-to-Wi-Fi client mode. But the Asus WL-330NUL is coming with much easier solution. All you have to do is type in the browser http://router.asus.com and a transparent micro DNS server will be triggered, allowing the access in the admin page no matter of the IP configuration upstream. This way, you can reconfigure the device at any time and no Windows setup application is required.

And this isn’t the only feature of the WL-330NUL. For example, if it is plugged into a host PC with Windows, the firmware detects the OS and makes the device act as a RNDIS adapter, the preferred method for Windows device networking. This is also used by Windows phones and Android USB Internet tethering. Also, if you plug the WL-330NUL into a Mac or Linux system, it enumerates as a Realtek chipset Ethernet adapter, which any computer supports.

Regarding the device’s performance, this smart gadget has no problem maxing out a fast Internet connection, the only downside being that it doesn’t support the 5GHz band, nor handles the 802.11ac. But, because today more and more PCs act like tablets, having a USB travel router can be extremely useful and the WL-330NUL brings a lot of improvements and does the job admirably.