Workers who want to make their own hotspots, whether it’s on a job site or at a remote office, will find a lot to like about the Kyocera KR2 Mobile Router, an impressive upgrade to the KR1. With the ability to accept three types of connection cards—USB, PC Card, and ExpressCard, including models from AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and other carriers—Kyocera makes it a cinch to distribute that mobile broadband goodness over 802.11n Wi-Fi. That means a team (up to 32 users) can share one router without having to pay extra for additional connection cards or for more than one $60-per-month data account. At $249, this device is priced higher than most 802.11n routers, but it’s a lot more versatile.
Kyocera KR2 Setup and Design
The KR2 is so small—just 8.5 x 5.3 x 1.3 inches—it fits in just about any laptop bag. Busy travelers don’t have time to go through a complex installation process when setting up a wireless network when they’re out of the office, and the KR2 obliges. In fact, this router doesn’t really require any setup at all. We plugged in a Sprint Novatel Wireless Ovation U720 USB adapter and were surfing the Web in minutes. We also tested a Verizon Wireless PC5750 PC Card and an older Verizon Wireless ExpressCard and had no problems. You can install a program to help you tweak settings, but there aren’t that many to fuss over: You can also configure WPA or WPA2 security encryption or enable security using Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) in Windows.
Mostly, the KR2 just works. The KR2 maintained a steady 1 Mbps to 2 Mbps EV-DO connection in a downtown San Francisco hotel on a business trip, never stuttering over WWAN or Wi-Fi. As an 802.11n device, the KR2 provides only acceptable 802.11n speeds of about 80 Mbps. On tests performed with a Sony VAIO AR790 laptop and Ixia IxChariot, the KR2 couldn’t connect beyond about 400 feet in the hallway of our hotel. When we repeated the tests at our home, we noted similar results.
5 feet: 80 Mbps
50 feet: 45 Mbps
100 feet: 35 Mbps
300 feet: 9 Mbps
500 feet: No signal
Kyocera KR2 Verdict
While the Kyocera KR2 router is expensive compared with other N routers, the ability to share mobile broadband is invaluable for remote workers, including sales groups and dispatch teams. Even when you add up the costs—EV-DO service runs about $60 per month, a good connection card costs about $100, and the router itself is $239 (with 15% discount through Kyocera and Verizon Wireless)—the KR2 is a very good deal because you can share that one fast-enough EV-DO connection with multiple users at the same time. AT&T customers can benefit as well (the KR2 supports HSDPA), and it’s a great investment for businesses that use Sprint or Verizon Wireless.