It so happens that where I live has sucky internet access. Period. None of the options are very good. Cable doesn't reach me, nor does DSL. Satellite isn't an option, and so the only other thing left is wireless internet with a cellular modem and an expensive bill every month. But, at least, it did get me internet.
Things were fine if you only needed one computer to access said internet at a time, but I'm a geek, so I have several things in my home that can call out into the cloud -- my bluray player, my Wii, all my computers, my BlackBerry, etc. And if someone came to visit, getting them online was a major pain in the rear as well.
See, I had to set everything up with a wifi router connected to one machine that used Microsoft's Internet Connection Sharing in order to share the connection to all those machines. Which worked great in theory, and less so in practice, because you had to set each device up with special settings just to get anything to work.
Then, for some reason, the cellular modem and my computer would suddenly not see eye-to-eye, and the only option would be to reboot the entire computer. A computer which also happened to be my DVR. Not a good option there.
I had looked online several years back for the perfect fix -- a router that could connect directly with my cellular modem, and provide that connection to all my other devices. Back then it was expensive ($300+), and so I didn't jump. But I looked again, just recently, and discovered that there were many wifi routers that would happy accept a cellular modem and provide it to the other devices that didn't burn a hole in my purse!
I ended up with the Cradlepoint MBR900 for $150. (view website) It was just about as plug-and-play as you can get -- give it some power, plug in the cellular modem, and watch as it takes over from there. Of course, that would be it, but you'd have an insecure wireless network, so I set that up as well, but all of it was very easy to do.
The cool thing is that this is a regular router (so my bluray player can connect to it via wires), and also wifi, so my Wii and Blackberry can connect. And there aren't any oddball settings to apply -- just the key to log on to the network. Yay!
Now I haven't had the device long enough to discover much beyond the fact that yes, it works, and it works pretty well. And it frees up my DVR computer to be a DVR, and lets those guests connect without setting a lot of complicated things up. And it's actually kinda cute. (Which is always a winner, in my opinion!)
Now, granted, this is a pretty niche product, but what's really cool about it is that if you just happen to have both a cellular modem and a cable/dsl line, you can set this thing up to fail over to the other connection should the other fail. That's the really cool part that I'd love to have fun with, except, of course, I have no wired options around! But maybe you do.
Also, it really has nothing to do with photography. Except for the fact that without my internet access, all my business activities would be much harder to accomplish. Not impossible, but really, really painful. And so, I'm officially in love with this little router. It wasn't expensive, has proven reliable so far (knocks on wood), and does just what I need. How cool is that?