After my review of the RAVPOWER WiFi Disk/Power Bank (RP-WD01) I was asked to take a look at another, similar product, the HT-TM01 (from now on, just HT) – this time the promise of actual ROUTER ability was added, making this device useful in all new situations.
The HT promises four main functions; a 5200mAh power bank for refueling your USB charged devices, a wireless access point/bridge to share one wifi connection with multiple people, a router (R-45 connector) for wired connectivity and finally a Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution – allowing you to wirelessly share a portable USB drive wirelessly.
The HT comes to you as rounded edged, attractive moderate weight black brick. It’s about the length of a man’s index finger, about two inches wide and about one and a half inches thick. The glossy surface resists fingerprints, but as with all black glossy items, it will still get dirty. It feels very solid and there are ridges on both sides to provide an anti-slip mechanism.
On the top, you’ll find the RJ-45 jack for plugging into a physical network.
The bottom features a standard USB port to plug in your USB drive or USB device to charge.
The right side has a small microUSB plug for recharging the internal battery.
It is a very pleasing little piece of hardware overall.
The Power Bank
Let’s get the low hanging fruit out of the way, shall we? At the heart of the unit is a 5200mAh battery, ready to power and recharge your USB devices. It can deliver up to 1A output, meaning it will handle big charge jobs like 10″ tablets as well as your cell phone and MP3 player.
What does 5200mAh mean to you? If the HT battery is full, you can FULLY recharge a modern smartphone between 1.5 and about 2.5 times (depending on the device). For a high drain, big battery device like a 10″ tablet – you’re going to get about 50% charged by draining the HT into it. For 7″ tablets, you’re looking at 70-80% charge.
You can check the HT battery percentage at any time by tapping the button on the front. With 4 LEDs, each one represents about 25% charge; therefore one light on means you have 0-25% charge, two lights – 25%-50%, etc. When the battery is too low to even power up the device, all four lights flash to notify you (the unit auto shuts down).
It has proven useful as backup power means for my devices.
The Wireless Access Point
Much like the RAV device I mentioned earlier, the HT will act as a wireless access point/bridge. As such, the device will connect to an existing wifi access point and allow other devices to connect to the HT to get to the internet. The HT handles the DHCP (assigning IP addresses to the connecting devices) duties and shields everyone connected as NAT devices so they aren’t DIRECTLY accessible on the internet. This is similar to how everyone’s home wireless access point already works – so there should be no surprises.
The biggest question I get is “why would you want to do this?” I mean, if the HT can connect to a wifi access point, why don’t I just connect my other wi-fi devices to the same one?
There are a couple of reasons I can see to do this. This allows you to “protect” the original wifi access point’s credentials such as SSID, access key, etc. If you have a hidden SSID, etc. this allows you to share your wifi with visitors, your younger kids, etc. without exposing your private wifi. This also makes it easy to “cut them off” or regulate access to the wireless internet if you have kids. If you’re at a hotel that will only allow you to have one device on the wifi, the HT will act as the “one” device, and you can let everyone in your room still use it.
The wifi antenna is very good. I was able to easily connect to the device through several cube walls and an interior wall from at least 50-75 feet away with good strength.
The Wired Access Point
Many hotels offer free WIRED internet but charge you for WIRELESS internet. The HT can plug into that wired connection and create a nice clean wireless access point – ready for your wireless devices.
Other that plugging into the wall, this mode works the same as the Wireless Access Point.
Here is the new slant compared to the RAV device. This little sucker will act as a full blown router if you need it. Plug it into your cable or DSL modem and it will handle the duties of a dedicated router with full wireless access to it. This is useful if your wifi router dies at home and you need something to hold you over until you can replace it. It would also be great if you go to someone’s house that has no wireless access but has cable or DSL internet.
Using the USB port, you can plug in a USB drive (flash, 2.5″ portable drive, etc) into the HT and it becomes “sharable” on the the wifi. The perfect use for this for small storage mobile devices like cell phones and tablets; you can stream video and music from a cheap large drive – right over wifi. Since this uses SAMBA to share, you can actually STREAM (instead of just DOWNLOAD) if your mobile app supports it.
Let me paint you a scenario I was JUST in.
Trip to Vegas – about 5 hours – with a 6 year old in the backseat. My son LOVES his tablet, but his Nexus 7 is wifi only and even if I tether it to my phone, accessing his video and music library at home is sketchy because we’re driving across the desert and cell reception is spotty – let alone 3G/4G. Solution? Grab a 250GB portable drive out of the drawer, pack it full of his favorite cartoons and music and take it along with us! He can now connect his Nexus 7 wirelessly to the HT and stream content all the way to Sin City. I know what you’re thinking … why not just an OTG cable? The BEST part of using the HT (and the above named RAV too) is that the device is also a fat battery as well. Most OTG cables cannot supply enough power to run a 2.5″ portable hard drive. The HT device can handle the wifi duties AND power a full self-powered drive. Super sweet.
Plus, being six, the less moving parts for him the better. I have visions of snapped off OTG plugs, damaged USB ports – or worse.
While this is indeed a hardware device, under the hood you have software driving the whole thing. Normally I would go into great detail about how the software works, but it is VERY close to the RAV product I mentioned at the beginning.
You’ll use a built in web server to connect to and administrate the HT. Use whatever browser you like. Within the web page, you’ll set up your internet connections, router settings, etc.
I’ll warn you that this is a BASIC device when it comes to doing router and user administration. It’s bare bones – allowing only one user (admin) and doesn’t have all the fancy port forwarding, triggering, etc. you might find on a “real router”.
If you want to know more about the software and how it works – check out my RAV product review. It is VERY similar.
The Dark Side
No product is perfect. So what is deficient on this device?
Much like the RAV device, there really isn’t much wrong with it per se – as long as you’re willing to figure out how to use it. The manual that comes with it is really top notch for an import product of this nature. Usually it’s really garbled Engrish with little help – but this manual (as tiny as it is) is actually useful. However, even with a good manual you’ll need some technical expertise to get this working exactly the way you want.
Unlike the RAV device, this does NOT allow you to “direct connect” it to your PC or laptop and has no built in storage. This isn’t a negative on this device, but more a positive for the RAV. They really are designed for different uses but I couldn’t help feeling like this device would have been the ultimate Swiss Army device if only it had those two features.
Other than features I wish it had, the device works as advertised and does it well.
This is a great little device and does exactly what it says it will. I find the RAV device is more along the lines of what I need; all the wireless goodies above plus local storage and the ability for the device to act as a USB drive itself.
If what you need is a portable router, wifi and power augmentation travel companion? This does the trick. If you’re an OTG user on your tablet or would just like to have some built in storage, I’d send you to the RAV device.