Stream Video in a Hotel With D-Link’s Shareport Go Portable Router
When you hear that you “can’t use a Chromecast dongle” (or other media player) in a hotel, the problem is that when you try to connect to the hotel’s Wi-Fi, you often can’t get online until you have authenticated the connection. Typically, this requires that you open your computer or device’s web browser that will automatically display a login page for the hotel’s Wi-Fi. Some hotel’s require a username and password they supply, others have you check to accept their terms of service. To connect a media player to the hotel’s network, the player would need to be able to automatically open the authentication web page. To my knowledge, there are no players that can make that jump, and cannot complete the Wi-Fi connection. The Shareport Go can make the connection and use your computer in the setup to complete the authentication. It can connect to the Internet via the hotel’s Wi-Fi and act as a Wi-Fi Hotspot—a router to which you can connect the devices that you want to be part of your private network. It’s sort of the home network away from home.
To test the Shareport Go, I brought a bag full of media players—an Apple TV, the NETGEAR PTV3000 Push2TV, a WDTV Play media player, and the Google Chromecast dongle—and my MacBook laptop, iPad 2, iPhone, and Samsung Galaxy S4 (Android) phone. I tested the Shareport Go on two occasions. The Red Lion in Aurora, Colorado has free Wi-Fi that requires you to agree to the terms of service when you connect. The Red Lion in Eureka, CA brings up a login page when you connect to the Red Lion Wi-Fi.
For hotels that still have an Ethernet connection, it may be possible to set up the Shareport Go using the “QRS” D-link Shareport setup app for iPhones or iPads, or Android smartphones or tablets. Neither hotel where I tested the Shareport had an Ethernet connection in the hotel room. Instead, I connected my laptop to the hotel Wi-Fi then attached an Ethernet cable from the Shareport Go to the laptop to complete the setup.
It is relatively easy to get started if you are familiar with setting up a router. If not, there are step by step directions once you access the Shareport Go’s dashboard (menu). Begin by opening a web browser on the connected computer, and type the universal router IP address: 192.168.0.1 (don’t type “www” or “http” because it is a local area network connection). This brings up the Shareport Go’s dashboard where you can set it up to connect to the hotel’s Wi-Fi. When the Shareport Go makes its connection and restarts, the login or authentication webpage will display on the laptop so you can agree with the terms of service, or enter the login information for the hotel’s Wi-Fi.
When streaming from one device to another, the Shareport network worked well. I was able to mirror and stream using AirPlay from my iPhone and iPad to my Apple TV. Likewise the Samsung Galaxy S4 streamed to the NETGEAR Push2TV using Miracast. The Chromecast was able to stream videos from websites on my computer, and the WDTV could stream Netflix.
Streaming from online services was contingent on the hotel’s Wi-Fi speed. The Red Lion in Aurora was in the process of remodeling and the Wi-Fi speeds were slow. Streaming to the Chromecast from YouTube or Netflix on my iPad was painfully slow. I couldn’t make it through a full episode without giving up because I had to repeatedly wait for the video to buffer. The Eureka hotel did much better as the Internet speeds were above 2.5 Mbps. I was able to stream TV from the DISH Anywhere website on the Chrome browser of my MacBook to the Chromecast dongle. At 8pm, I experienced delays (presumably because many hotel guests were using the Internet at that time). However, during the day streaming was smooth and acceptable.
The Shareport Go has a USB port to connect a flash drive or external hard drive (up to 500 GB) with media files and documents. Smartphones and tablets using the Shareport Mobile App can stream directly from the connected USB drive. Videos and photos can be displayed on an iPad or Android tablet, or you can play music. This solution makes it possible to bring a large media library with you, and not use all of the memory on your portable device.
There are other ways to stream in hotel rooms including creating a Wi-Fi hotspot using your cell data plan. However, you’ll want to be careful not to go over your monthly data limits as streaming video is a real data hog. The Shareport Go has been my ticket to hotel entertainment when I don’t want to watch the local channels. My Apple TV and Chromecast now come with me whenever I travel.