D-Link was nice enough to send on a portable router/charger for review, the DIR-510L…read on for my review!
D-Link was nice enough to send on a portable router/charger for review, the DIR-510L. Let’s dig in and see what we have.
The DIR-510L is a combination AC750 router and a 4,000 mAh battery pack to charge your devices while on the go. Combining a travel router and a battery pack makes a lot of sense as it can lighten up your travel bag by eliminating one device. Here are a few pictures of the device; as you can see, it is about the same size as a cell phone. More than one person asked me if it was an iPhone 4S!
The idea of being able to combine two items into one small one (and a charger) makes sense for a road warrior, and when the router is the first 802.11AC portable router on the market, it makes even more sense. This is an AC750 device: dual-band N support at 300 Mbps on each band, plus 433 Mbps when connected on 5 GHz AC. This is not as fast as an AC1900 device, but having the 433 Mbps 5GHz AC connectivity option sets this travel router apart from the competition. Why a travel router? Well, when you travel, do you connect to open of free Wi-Fi? Do you pay a fee for every device that connects? If so, using a travel router can help to secure your connection by slotting a firewall between your device and the public Wi-Fi, and it also makes connections easier for multiple devices. Just connect the DIR-510L to the public Wi-Fi, and connect your devices to it. In addition, this device can share a cellular modem’s connection with multiple devices. And of course, having a charging battery is very handy, especially if you are using a cell phone without a removable battery. Let’s see how the DIR-510L does in practice!
First, plug the router in. I found that using the DIR-510L in battery mode as a router is possible, but the battery life is pretty short, and plugging it in keeps that battery for when you want to use it as a charger. Then, set the selector switch to the On position. (Setting the selector switch to Charger enables you to charge devices on the USB ports; the Off position turns off the device.) Once the router is on, find and select the Wi-Fi network being broadcast by the DIR-510L. The default is DIR-510L or DIR-510L_5GHz, depending on the band that you want to connect to. After you connect, point your web browser to http://dlinkrouter.local or http://192.168.0.1. I used IE11 on Windows 8/RT, IE10 on Windows 7, Safari on an iPad 4, Chrome on Android devices and IE11 on a Windows Phone. All worked just fine. You’ll see the following:
So far, so good! The default password is blank. Click Log In. Once you are there, click on Management then Admin and set an admin password, then click on Home.
OK, the red X means that the DIR-510L is not connected to another router, and the yellow caution sign also tells you that your device has no internet connectivity. Time to set up the network connection! Click on the red X.
Here’s a listing of available wireless internet connections. I’m going to pick ApacheAC as that gets me a 5GHz AC connection.
I selected ApacheAC and clicked Select.
Password time! Open/public Wi-Fi hotspots will not require a password, but you’ll have to authenticate in a browser later on in the process.
I have now connected to my secured SSID and have internet access. If you were connecting to a public hotspot, you would now have to open a browser and enter the hotel code or agree to terms of service before being truly on the internet, but that’s all there is to it. This took me 10 minutes to document while taking screen shots. It is very fast.
The DIR-510L remembers the connections that you’ve made, and if there is a password, it is remembered as well. Under Settings at the top of your screen, click on Internet Profiles to see your installed connections.
You can delete or edit any of these from this screen, making managing your connections convenient.
If you want to manage the Wi-Fi settings on the DIR-510L, click on Settings and choose Wi-Fi. Here are the options for managing Wi-Fi.
You have the choice of WPA/WPA2-Personal security or None, and can select N Only, B Only, Mixed B/G, Mixed N/G or Mixed B/G/N under the 2.4 GHz band. The 5GHz band can only be set to Mixed A/N/AC. You can select transmission power and channel width on each band.
Since this is a router, there are settings for networking. Click on Settings then select LAN. I left all of these alone.
I was a bit surprised to see a guest network SSID capability (actually two!). Click on Settings and Select Guest Zone and you see this:
I activated this and it worked quite well, connecting devices connected via these SSID’s to the internet while walling off connectivity to other devices routing through the DIR-510L.
The DIR-510L will also function as a DLNA server and will allow access to data connected to the USB port that is onboard. You need a mydlink account and the mydlink SharePort app, available for iOS and Android devices. Make sure that you choose the mydlink version of this app; the other (older) version is not compatible with this router. To create your mydlink account, click on Settings and mydlink. Follow the prompts to register and then enter the account information, along with your admin account and password for the router, into Settings in the mobile app. Here is most of my screen once I set up the account:
I tossed eight episodes of Entourage onto the thumb drive that I plugged into the high-power USB port (the one nearest the switches on the top edge of the device). Once I opened the app and set up the account details, I navigated to Videos and saw all of the available media, and it streamed just fine to my Samsung Galaxy S3. This worked, but is a little cumbersome.
The DIL-510L has two USB ports: a 0.5A and a 1.0A. The .5A is intended for phones, and the 1.0A is for phones and tablets. To use this device as a charger, slide the selector button to Charger and plug in your device. Done! I’ve found that my S3 won’t charge well on the 0.5A port, so I use the 1.0A port to charge my phone, but having the charger built into the travel router is a real bonus.
The D-Link DIR-510L promises a powerful AC750 travel router and a battery charger all in one. It can be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot, can be connected to a wired internet connection and can also be used in conjunction with a 3G/4G modem to share that connection with multiple devices.
The SharePort app worked, but was a little cumbersome. However, if you wanted to share media with multiple devices, that is supported and it does work.
I also like having the battery built into the travel router. This means that I can leave the battery pack at home, and the small size of the device fits easily in my wife’s purse.
I’ve found this device to be indispensible when travelling. When our family travels, we have between four and seven mobile devices with us. It used to be a chore for me to connect all of these devices to the Wi-Fi hotspot. Now, since I’ve configured our mobile devices to work with the DIR-510L, I only connect one device to the internet. The other devices connect to the DIR-510L. Speeds have been quite acceptable. I did not do formal speed testing on this device; speeds seen will be driven by the Wi-Fi hotspot that you connect to. However, I have not seen any speed-related issues when using this device. In addition, I now place a firewall between my devices and these public Wi-Fi hotspots; used in conjunction with the VPN server on my NAS unit, we are secured when using public Wi-Fi access points.
If you travel, connect to Wi-Fi hotspots and use a battery pack to keep mobile devices charged, the D-Link DIR-510L should be in your travel bag. I award the CDW Gold Award with a 5/5 score.