Netgear TREK - Extend your hotel WiFi

by Volker Weber

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This is a small gadget I have been waiting for quite a while. It knows a very useful trick. Connect to a wireless LAN, and then route the traffic into its own WiFi network. When do you need that? If your hotel sells you WiFi to the tune of 15 € per day and you want to connect your computer, your phone and your tablet. So far I have been using a Belkin travel router, but that needs a wired Internet connection to share. Same goes for the Apple Airport.

The Netgear TREK borrows from the Airport design as it plugs right into your wall outlet. Its antenna flips out to give you a better signal, and it has two Ethernet ports. One for a wired Internet connection, if you have one, the other for a computer which needs a wire. Or a Sonos speaker, if that's in your bag. You can connect a USB device, either storage or a printer.

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And as you travel, you can power it through your wall outlet, but it will also take a MicroUSB plug from your phone charger. Since the TREK just draws 0.7A, any 1A charger will do. Or a power bank if you are without a power outlet. Finally, if you take out the plug, you don't have to swap it for a Netgear plug that fits, but you can use any regular cable. This is how I adapt to different countries. I just happen to have those cables for the US, the UK, Switzerland, Italy and so forth.

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If you click through to Flickr, you can see that the device comes preconfigured with its own SSID and WPA2 key. But I am just going to tell you, since I already changed those parameters.

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Once you are connected, your computer is going to open "genie" to help you connect to the networks available. You should also connect directly to 192.168.168.1 to fix the default admin/password combination. Yes, that is verbatim. ;-)

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I found it on Amazon.com for $30 (with a US plug). On Amazon.de it's 40 € and comes with EU and UK plugs.

So that is all very impressive. Any downsides? It's 2.4 GHz only, which can be very crowded. But still, this is a very likely candidate for an editor-refuses-to-give-it-back award.

Comments

Some hotels present you with an open (unencrypted) WiFi, but redirect you to some login page the moment you try to use it.

Does the TREK handle this case?

Robert Dahlem, 2014-05-06 11:39

That is a standard use case. The TREK does not have to do a thing. You just connect to the WiFi network, you will be redirected to the portal from your device, you log in and the portal will register the TREK's MAC address. Untested so far, but I would be surprised if that does not work. I will be able to test tomorrow, so there will be an update on Thursday in case there are any unexpected difficulties.

Volker Weber, 2014-05-06 11:47

Meanwhile I found that one of the reviewers on amazon.com seems to have tested this successfully: http://www.amazon.com/review/RM4GY4OGK2KGI?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00HQ883T4

I guess that is what he means with "hotel wifi splash page". Looking forward to your update anyway.

Robert Dahlem, 2014-05-06 11:53

I don't expect an update here. This is the primary use case for a travel router like this.

But let's not forget there are many more use cases:

- extend a WiFi network without creating a new network
- connect to your neighbor's guest WiFi to access the Internet while isolating your networks
- use as primary router behind a cable box or DSL modem

It's just very versatile.

Volker Weber, 2014-05-06 11:57

Is the function to extend a Hotel wifi the same as "WISP", which this product does?

http://www.amazon.de/dp/B00CS2M7OU

I like the price and the design of this one.

Sascha Mohr, 2014-05-06 13:59

If you want to travel light, try the Asus WL-330NUL (http://www.amazon.de/dp/B00C7F6KKK). It weights about 20gr.

Abdelkader Boui, 2014-05-06 14:47

Sascha, WISP appears to be Wireless Internet Service Provider. So, yes, it appears to be similar.

Volker Weber, 2014-05-06 15:54

I used D-Link DIR506-L last year in Australia: WiFi-hotspot, router with cable, router with Telstra UMTS/LTE stick, battery for 3 hours onboard. I couldn't wait for Netgear.

Hermann Wiesner, 2014-05-06 16:22

The TP-Link TL-MR3020 and TL-MR3040 do this too. I have the TL-MR3040 as it has a built in battery, no need to even plug it into the wall. Great for 3G/4G/wifi sharing in the car on the move.

Andy Mell, 2014-05-07 09:10

Mein Test war mittelmäßig erfolgreich. Auch im Hotel hat das funktioniert. Verbunden mit dem Hotel-Wlan, dann Anmeldung mit meinem Voucher und alles hat prima funktioniert. Und dann nicht mehr. Das Gerät meldet alles OK, aber es kamen keine Daten mehr rüber. Da ich ohne Diagnosetools war, konnte ich nicht feststellen, was da geklemmt hat.

Volker Weber, 2014-05-09 23:28

use of the TREK in hotels works ... I'd say 99%. I was at three different hotels in the last few weeks and used it in all three. Two of those three hotels used redirections to login pages. They all worked fine (this is in the U.S.) One of those system asked for a voucher, whereas others just asked for last name and room number.

After that authentication the wifi worked for all four devices I connected (two different MacBooks, an iPhone 5 and an iPad 2).

The only hick-up was this morning, when all by a sudden on the iPhone the Trek redirected not to the Internet, but to the internal admin login and prompted me with a message saying that I already am connected from another device ... I reset the TREK and everything worked fine again.

Stefan Heinz, 2014-05-24 19:03

BTW, Volker - Thanks for this tip. As always ... excellent info. I wanted something like that for a long time ...

Stefan Heinz, 2014-05-24 19:04

Cooles Teil! Sorcerer's apprentice proof :-)

Stephan Bohr, 2014-06-13 16:31

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vowe.net is a personal website published by Volker Weber a.k.a. vowe. I am an author, consultant and systems architect based in Darmstadt, Germany.

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