On first appearance this router would seem another ho-hum product for sharing an internet connection within a small office/branch office, but looks can be deceiving. There maybe be similar looking devices on the market for a fraction of the price of this product but the amount of features make it a worthwhile consideration.
This is not just a router. While most products in this category offer firewall capabilities, this boasts a VPN as well as the ability to connect external hard drives direct to the router for file sharing. Also its looks are reminiscent of old US Robotics modems given a makeover for the new millennium with diagnostic lights on the front for each connection.
We set up the device on our test network and fired up the management console. The web-based user interface is undemanding and easy to understand (maybe a little too simplistic looks-wise - but then again this is not really a criticism). Past the logon page there is a diagram of the the network based around the device consisting of the device, the firewall, the Wan link and finally the internet itself. Each icon is clickable and gives the user the status of each device or connection.
Clicking on the device icon brings up a status report of the device with its inbound and outbound connections. The DHCP server on the device is automatically enabled on start up and clicking on a link brings up what computers have been connected to the router through the network as well as actions to be taken on these devices (such as giving them a static lease type connection).
It seems that you cannot buy a firewall product without having some kind of VPN bundled in the deal. This
device is not exception. And again, it looks like the designers have gone to great lengths to make things as easy as possible to use. Setting up a VPN was child's play as the menu guided us through the steps.
One of the novel aspects of this was the ability to attach external hard drives. It has two USB ports and a firewire port. We connected a flash drive to one of the USB ports and were pleasantly surprised that the device recognised this device and mounted immediately for use. It appeared on our test network but to access it we had to type in a username and password. We were impressed by the attention to security details like this.
Overall, this product could easily be dismissed as another "me-too" router but that would be a mistake. This should be given serious consideration to anyone looking for a capable router packed full of features.