Slate GL-AR750S Travel Router REVIEW
In one of my former jobs, I was required to travel quite a bit and one of my biggest frustrations was that the hotels I was staying in didn’t have WiFi included as a part of the room rate. When I travel for personal reasons now, that’s one of the main things I look for — WiFi availability. At the time that I would hit those establishments with no or poor WiFi, I just suffered through it. I didn’t know there was another option other than connecting an extremely long Ethernet cable (which I did do more than once) and string it across the room. Nowadays, I might take one or two personal trips a year and WiFi availability is much more popular in hotels than it was several years ago. Nowadays, the concern is actually security and not so much how fast my connection is. Since so many people use WiFi and want to tap into other people’s business frequently, I started safeguarding myself with the aide of a VPN service. I was recently introduced to the Slate (GL-AR759S) Travel Router, which can actually solve both of my travel/shared network woes.
The Slate Travel Router is a tiny device about the size of a deck of playing cards. It has the ability to provide you with a private internet connection with multiple VPN protocols support. The Slate is the first dual-band Gigabit travel router. It has a Micro SD card slot integrated into the device to increase storage space up to 128GB. It comes packaged with a short Ethernet cable, Micro USB-to-USB-A cable, and power adapter. The router has three Ethernet ports, one USB-A port, and one Micro USB port available on the device itself. There are two antennae located on each side of the unit that can be flipped upward to enhance the signal of the router. The front of the router showcases three LEDs — one to indicate power and the other two indicate the availability of a 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz networks. The router also comes with a quick start guide.
Getting started with the Slate router is very, very easy. The first step is powering it on. To do this, you will need to connect the Micro USB cable and power adapter to a power outlet. While you don’t necessarily have to use the power adapter, it is recommended that you have a power source that is producing 5V/2A worth of power. As an experiment, I connect the USB cable and the router to a power bank that pushed out that amount for power delivery and it worked just fine. This is one of the things I really like about this router — you could potentially use it a lot of different places with the aide of a power bank.
After you’ve established a power source, you will connect to the 2.4GHz WiFi called GL-AR750S-xxx and enter a default password provided by GL-iNet. Once you connect to it, you will have to ‘set up’ the router by visiting http://192.168.8.1. At this point in the set-up process, you will have to set an admin password and then adjust the router and network settings in the dashboard. You actually have a few options of how you want to use the Slate. You can use it as a private WiFi network, a WiFi Repeater, a 3G/4G modem, or as a tethered device. I connected the Slate to our home Wifi network and decided to attempt using a VPN through the Slate. Since this would be the primary method I would use when I was away from home, I thought it only fitting that I test out the router in that fashion.
Connecting to my home WiFi was incredibly easy. The Slate held its connection well and tweaking various settings within the network were easy to deal with in the dashboard of the router. I did, however, run into some issues when it came to setting up the VPN. Slate uses OpenVPN as its main source for VPN. The service I subscribe to is NordVPN. It works really well and from what I can tell, it works well with OpenVPN, but for some reason, I was never able to make it work. I tried several different paths to get the OpenVPN config files to work, but I kept getting an error upon upload. I’m sure that this was a user error though as I read how many others have had great success getting the VPN to work with this router.
Aside from the VPN feature, I didn’t have any issues with having the router connected to WiFi and being able to connect my laptop to it. Since I wasn’t able to test the VPN features successfully, I did complete several different speed tests using the Slate as the pass-thru for our home WiFi network. I used the Speedtest by Ookla app for Mac to test the network connection. I have included the screenshots below of the results. They were unfortunately not very good for the Slate. While I still had a solid connection to the WiFi Network, it was nowhere near as a fast as being directly connected to the WiFi. I ran the Speedtest first when I was directly connected to the network. Then, I ran it again when I was connected through the Slate. Since the results were so different from the initial test, I ran the Speedtest one more time connected directly to the WiFi and got a result that was closer to the original test.
Even though I had some issues with the router, I don’t feel that it was the fault of the product. It is very easy to set up and it really makes it possible for you to have a secure internet wherever you go. If you invest in the Slate, you won’t have to configure a VPN client on every device or start an encrypted tunnel when you are on a public network. I can recommend the Slate for those who want to be protected wherever they go.
Originally published at macsources.com on September 13, 2018.