Taiwanese Edimax has been making steady inroads at the cheaper end of the market with a range of products which typically undercut the market leaders on price. As with its Chinese sibling TP-Link, I’ve always been a bit wary of their products but recently I had the opportunity to try out the Edimax 3G-6200n, a 3G 11n wireless router and I was pleasantly surprised by the build standard and the features on offer.
To start with, the 3G-6200n cost £40 from Amazon. For comparison, the equivalent Netgear (MBRN3000) costs about twice as much. The Edimax device is quite an old device released in mid-2009 so the 11n is only of the 150 Mb/s variety and the LAN ports are only 100 Mb/s. The Netgear’s 11n runs to 300 Mb/s but still only has 100 Mb/s LAN ports. If you are only routing internet traffic, 150 Mb/s is going to be perfectly adequate.
On opening the box, there was the router itself, a PSU that usefully has an on/off switch, a short USB lead, various manuals and a CD. The router itself is plastic but it’s not really plasticky, if you follow. I’ve had Belkin devices that were worse. Interestingly, there’s a switch on the back that turns off the wifi – that’s not something I’d ever seen before.
Getting the basic router up and running was straightforward. Turn it on, plug one end of a network cable into a LAN port and connect the other to a PC or laptop. Open a web browser with http://192.168.2.1/ and login into the router using the provided username and password.
As with all routers, there’s a plethora of sections to go through and configure – basic setup, WAN, LAN, wireless and so on. I’d say the device was well featured without being advanced. For example, the wifi only allows you to setup one SSID and there was no auto setting on the channels, but port forwarding and virtual servers are there too. After I’d set up the wifi, I was able to disconnect the cable and work wirelessly.
As you might guess, the main reason for getting this router was for its 3G functionality. Round the back of the router is a USB port into which a 3G modem dongle can be plugged in. Once connected, the router can share the 3G connection wirelessly. Helpfully, there’s a short USB cable included that can be used to position the dongle for the best reception.
How is this different from a “Mifi” or similar device? First, the Edimax is not battery powered, secondly it has LAN ports and finally it doesn’t have to use 3G all the time. It can be configured to use a DSL or cable modem normally and only fall back to the 3G modem when the modem connections fails.
In this instance I was only interested in a 3G connection. Unfortunately, you can’t plug any old 3G dongle into the 3G-6200n but Edimax provides a compatibility list (zipped pdf). I was using an Huawei E1550 which was listed as being supported and sure enough, it was. To get the connection to work, I had to configure the APN, username and password for the mobile provider that I was using within the router’s web interface. These details are easily available from the internet via a Google search or the mobile providers website.
I was able to connect using both Three and Vodafone SIMs in the Huawei E1550. Download speeds were usually over 1 Mb/s and less than 2 Mb/s but it varied a good deal depending on how the dongle was positioned. I noticed that the router started and stopped the 3G connection as required so it wasn’t constantly connected. One minor issue with that was that sometimes an initial request for a web page was met with a timeout as the connection hadn’t been made fast enough. Upon refreshing the page, it would be served successfully. This only happened a couple of times and I suspect the problem is more with the mobile phone network being slow to respond than the router.
Overall, I was impressed by the Edimax 3G-6200n and at £40 I think it’s excellent value. If you do need to share a 3G connection, particularly when you need both wired and wireless connections, then this is a good solution. The only downside is that it’s not a portable solution. And finally, remember to check that your 3G dongle is compatible.