Thursday, 09 February 2012 10:35

Sweet! Netcomm's smallest Wi-Fi router for 3G/4G USB modems is here!


If you've got one of Telstra's superfast 4G USB modems, and you wish that you could plug it into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot so all your devices can feel the need for 4G speed'¦ Netcomm's new M2 could well be your new best M8.

I love wireless technologies, and even though Australia is getting a wired high-speed broadband fibre network, wireless technologies have revolutionised the world and are only getting faster.

However, ever since Telstra launched its fastest wireless technology yet, 4G LTE, it only released a 4G USB modem, with a 4G wireless router due to arrive sometime in 2012, rather than in tandem with its USB brethren.

Thus, the world has waited for a device that could turn Telstra's 4G signals into Wi-Fi signals compatible with your smartphone, laptop, tablet or other Wi-Fi capable device, and while there may well be others out there, Netcomm's latest M2 is, the company claims, 'the smallest in its class', as well as being 'one of the world's lightest and most compact'.

Now, it's not just for 4G LTE UB modems, but any 3G/3.5G USB modem too, and means your 4G connection is easily shareable - certainly far more so that trying to share it via your laptop's Wi-Fi by using your PC or Mac's Wi-Fi sharing capabilities, which are either fiddly, require an additional download like Connectify on Windows 7, or are only able to offer the rather pathetic WEP encryption only as is the case with Mac OS X Wi-Fi Internet sharing (shame on you, Apple!).

Netcomm's M2 naturally suffers no such limitations, delivering full WPA2 protection, while being easily pocketable, and even able to share a wired Ethernet connection over Wi-Fi too, letting you transform hotel Ethernet into Wi-Fi for multiple people and/or multiple devices.

Now, unlike the 3G-only predecessor of this brand new 4G-compatible M2, the M2 has no battery pack. While this is a shame, it's understandable - 4G sucks up a lot of battery power, and would have delivered a larger device.

That said, the M2 uses a MicroUSB power socket, so I'm keen to try one of my portable iPhone/iPad battery charging packs to see whether I can power the M2 using one of those for complete battery-powered 4G wireless nirvana, and as Netcomm is sending me an M2 to test out, I'll be able to let you know whether that's the case or not.

In the meantime, however, you can just plug it into any regular power point using the supplied power pack, so battery or no, 4G to Wi-Fi is here at last from Netcomm, which makes me, at least, very happy.

Prices, specs and a photo on page two, please read on!

Danny Morrison, the GM of NetComm Wireless said that 'the M2 is among the smallest of its kind and is designed to give personal and business users easy multi-device access to the superior speeds, capacity and response times of Telstra's 4G LTE network. This launch reflects NetComm's commitment to designing advanced wireless technologies that compliment increasingly mobile lifestyles.

Costing AUD $79.00, and available from today at 'Telstra dealers', the device's full name is the Netcomm 3G/4G Wireless N150 Router M2, with the product code of 3GM2WN, with a full list of specs (in PDF format) here.

Netcomm states that it's 'compatible with Telstra's 4G USB modem and most 3G USB modems; and simultaneously connects multiple devices to 3G / 4G networks on a single broadband plan for increased efficiency and reduced costs.'

The company continues, saying it combines 'the latest connection, sharing and security technology in a light and portable unit, the M2 also features: an Ethernet LAN/WAN port for a wired connection option; an internal antenna to optimise signal strength and a wall adapter for easy recharge via power point.  

'For travellers staying in a Hotel, the LAN/WAN port on the device can be utilised to transform the hotel room's wired Ethernet connection into a wireless hotspot to connect and share multiple devices.

So'¦ if you want a simpler, smaller and more portable way to share your super fast 4G wireless broadband signal (or 3G or Ethernet broadband) to 802.11b, g, or n devices'¦ Netcomm's M2, as seen below, may very well become your new wireless M8!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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