Why should the joys of wireless networking be limited to just your laptop or HTPC? With people migrating to tablets and smartphones in droves, hotspot networking is becoming a necessity. Whether it’s at home or on a trip, staying connected is a must if you’re about serious business. D-Link puts their best foot forward with the SharePort Go, a wireless mobile companion that strives to be everything from a router/LAN-WAN hotspot and range extender, to a media streamer for iOS and Android devices, storage device and even a USB charger. And like so many devices with such lofty dreams of connected bliss, the reality doesn’t quite meet its noble ambitions.
This little device certainly has plenty to offer on paper, but you wouldn’t notice it from the outside at first glance. A white glossy face surrounded by matching matte plastic are the only elements of visual flair you’re going to get with the SharePort Go, complemented with some status lights and a turntable-style stand to keep things upright. There is also a Ethernet port for wired connections, a mini USB port for charging the router (a 1700mAh Li-ion battery keeps it powered without cables when fully charged), and a normal USB port for streaming and storage through a flash drive. All in all, garden variety stuff.
While the design won’t set your heart on fire, the network capabilities are far more interesting. For those constantly on the move, this compact device is almost a no-brainer – if you can get past the tedious trial and error install method that we experienced. If you’re not tech savvy and expect the SharePort Go to work right out of the box, you may experience some trouble with the initial setup process. After charging the device, expect to spend some time in the setup browser and the downloadable manual just to even make it recognizable for your computer/tablet. This will probably be the most frustrating part during the initial install and, sadly, there’s not much you can do to skip the process and be done with it. In fact, there’s a Quick Router Setup (QRS) option that had us running around in circles at first. Without a doubt, the user interface needs improvement or a bit of patience to fully grasp, especially if you want to switch between router and hotspot features (there’s no external switch to quickly flip through modes).
Fortunately when everything does come together, it does a good job and mostly delivers as a pocket hotspot. Simply plug the included Ethernet cable in a wired router (after you set it up) and it will supply a fresh Wi-Fi signal to up to four different devices. As a quick wireless replacement, it does the job well for roughly 6-8 hours during our endurance tests between two laptops, an iPod Touch, and a PlayStation 3. The SharePort Go managed the workload without any noticeable dip in bandwidth performance in the accepted 802.11n mode. As a range extender (repeater) we had similar results once we configured our home network. As a tool for those whose lives are tied to suitcases, the Go reliably passes with flying colors.
For those with a library of media and are completely enamored with their tablet or smartphone, the SharePort Go does offer the ability to access your files, provided you have a USB stick or HDD and D-Link’s own SharePort App for iOS or Android. Admittedly, the possibility sounds better than it actually is, as the lure of being able to watch, listen to, transfer files is limited to certain file types. And only the things transferrable to your USB device are the quick photos you take on your camera-equipped iOS or Android devices. Power users who pride themselves on their massive (downloaded) film collection will be disappointed to find out the app only recognizes Apple-friendly MP4 and MOV formats, while music, photo, and document files provide more compatibility options. But honestly, who’s really going to use the available app for anything else besides watching movies? Another somewhat-appreciated feat is that you can recharge aforementioned tablets/smartphones on the Go, but I would only recommend doing that if your truly in a low-battery pinch.
The D-Link SharePort Go is a great solution if you want to expand upon an available wired network at work, a hotel, café on the go or even at home. D-Link’s do-everything wireless solution definitely gets points for ambition, but novices or less technologically savvy users will probably get lost in the setup interface and its touted optional media sharing features for the iOS and Android crowd leave much to be desired. As a standard wireless range extender it performs admirably, with great battery life and connectivity throughout our rigorous testing. Realistically, this mobile companion is a vital tool if you live for your business travels, but not so much if you’re looking to broaden your multimedia ecosystem at home.
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