Tether Easier With WMWifiRouter
Product Category: Utility Software
Manufacturer: Morose Media
System Requirements: Windows Mobile 5 AKU 3.3 or newer or Windows Mobile 6, Both a WiFi and a cellular data connection, an installed and working version of Internet Sharing, 15 MB of free device memory
- Easy to use;
- Exceptional setup wizard;
- Multiple connection options.
- A bit pricey;
- Would love it to actively try to restore dropped data connection.
Summary: Tethering your handheld to your computer has come a long way from the days of strange connection strings, special cables, and slower than turtle speeds. WMWifiRouter provides a 1-click method for getting connected, but is it worth the price? Read on to find out!
What it Does
Simply put, it turns your Windows Mobile device into a broadband wireless router, the same kind you could buy for quite a lot of $$$. It does this by routing your cellular data connection (e.g. 3G or EDGE or even GPRS) through the device and out to the WiFi interface. Note that this device would operate very slowly in the GSM networks like Afghan Wireless that haven't yet developed the 3G cellular standard yet. Fortunately, most GSM networks in Europe have at least 3G network capabilities. Just like Internet Connection Sharing on a Windows machine, WMWifiRouter includes all the necessary components to assign addresses (DHCP) and route them (NAT) through the device. Windows Mobile does not have a simplistic networking design by a long shot. It features a fairly robust TCP/IP stack and thus supports things like non-traditional routing setups. The problem has always been exploiting that in a way that is easy for the end-user (you or I) to use. WMWifiRouter packages all of the bits and pieces up, and lets you quickly configure your network and start it easily. Assuming that your carrier or data plan allows tethering, you then have a running WiFi router to your cellular data connection.
Figure 1: The connected screen, showing status of the router.
I discovered WMWifiRouter while on a train. Literally while wondering if such a polished product existed, I ran a quick search and downloaded the CAB file from their website. Upon running it, I was presented with an extremely nice setup wizard that walked me through the entire process of setting up the connection. I could choose the SSID or wireless router name, set a WEP encryption key to keep others out (or at least make it harder for them to get in), and configure other options. Each option had a nice description of what it did, which I thought was nice for individuals who aren't quite sure what each item may mean to their networking setup. After Setup, I clicked on the Cellular to WiFi icon on the homescreen, and got the screen shown in Figure 1. After about 30 seconds of it updating the status (telling me what it was doing), it was ready to go. I fired up my iPod Touch and found my new network, plugged in my WEP key, and was off and running
Getting connected was all well and good, but staying connected proved to be more of an issue. While 99% of this was due to the fact that I tested this software mostly inside a moving rail car while my device hopped tower to tower, one thing could have improved my experience. On my train route, on any given device, my connection has a tendency to be flakey. I notice it die, then I usually manually kill the data connection and re-establish it. This takes some vigilance though. If I let the device handle it, it always takes around 3-4 minutes before the device realizes it has a zombie connection (or it never realizes it at all), and resets it. What I would love to see WMWifiRouter do is run a periodic network check (e.g., maybe ping an IP address) and if it fails, automatically disconnect and reconnect the cellular data connection. This would be a great added feature, I didn't expect it to do this out of the box.
Figure 2: The statistics screen shows how much data has been used and moved.
Other than issues related to my connection, I had no real issues with WMWifiRouter - it simply worked as I wanted it to, and with a stable connection it worked fast and seamlessly. Using my Dash 3G, it was awesome to utilize 3G speeds over WiFi while travelling. And now working at a WiFi-less cafe or shop is the city is no issue.
Other Connection Options
I should mention that Cellular Data to Wifi is not the only connection option that WMWifiRouter facilitates. It also will assist you in connecting Cellular Data to USB, and Cellular Data to Bluetooth. Windows Mobile includes these connection abilities by default, but having them in this package makes sense - users can easily connect up whatever they want using one program! In addition to those two options, WMWifiRouter also includes 2 rather novel options that I find quite cool. The first is a WiFi to USB mode, which effectively turns your device into a WiFi dongle. Now using older devices without a WiFi card (or desktop computers) to connect to a WiFi network is easily done.
The second novel option is USB to WiFi. When would you use this? Well imagine you're visiting a co-worker who works in a basement office where the corporate WiFi doesn't reach. You have a document on your computer you want to send him, but he doesn't have a spare ethernet cable. No problem, connect your Pocket PC up to his computer through USB, configure USB to WiFi, and use your laptop to connect to WMWifiRouter. Now you're using his Internet connection eventhough he has no Wireless Adapter. Pretty neat!
While a bit pricey at $29.99, WMWifiRouter provides 3 main advantages to the user. First, it removes the need for archaic setup instructions or crudely written utilities for tethering. Second, it provides novel connection methods that make it versitile and truely dynamic in function. And third, it has af full-featured UI and extensive documentation. I recommend WMWifiRouter to anyone who finds the need to tether their Windows Mobile device, and wants a simple solution to do so.
Jon Westfall, Ph.D. is a psychologist that knows quite a bit about computers -- or possibly a computer guy who knows a lot about psychology? However it works out for him and his multiple personalities, you can rest assured that he can be found writing & reviewing for Thoughts Media while also researching decision making strategies at Columbia Business School.
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Dr. Jon Westfall, MCSE, MS-MVP
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