Initially it was a curiosity, then turned into a challenge (because I can…) and once complete; I realised how functional a customised travel router was. But if you don’t have the time, energy or knowledge to build your own Raspberry Pi travel router, then there are some decent, albeit feature limited options.
ASUS just dropped a new tri-mode travel router that I believe (once I’ve had a play with it) may replace my Raspberry Pi router in my backpack when I travel. The RT-AX57 is a tidy looking piece of kit that has its place in the home, work and travel environments.
Features: It’s got pretty much everything covered
As a tri-mode router you’re getting — funnily enough — three connection modes:
- 4G/5G mobile tethering
- A private hotspot over public WiFi (WISP mode)
- Router mode to plug into an available Internet connection via Ethernet
All three options provide your devices with sweet, sweet Wi-Fi. When I’ve mentioned travel routers in the past, I’ve had questions along the lines of “but why not just use a public Wi-Fi wherever you are?” and once I stopped twitching, I explained the security risks of public networks and the benefits (such as when you turn it on, all your devices will automatically connect) of your own travel router.
There are some sacrifices in choosing a travel router, that usually comes by way of performance and capabilities. In this instance, you’ll get access to Wi-Fi 6 and capacity for up to around 70 devices. The device seems to be aimed at users who are comfy with IT given some of the other features, but doesn’t discount users who just want a simple way to connect to the Internet on the road.
Having an always-on VPN when you’re away from networks you control is a blessing that many don’t give enough credit to. When you couple this with some of the other features like malicious content blocking and DNS over TLS, you’re far safer than any open or public network.
If you have the need as a business, if you’re feeling generous, or your friends bribe you appropriately, there’s also a guest portal where you can provide controlled and metered Internet access to others. Having reviewed several ASUS router options in the past, there’s no doubt management of the connection or features via the app will be very simple.
I particularly like the slim design and mounting options. It gives a level of versatility to the unit, so you can consider it as a genuine option as a stationary router if you wish, or take it on the road without adding too much bulk to your bag.