The Linksys Wireless-G Router for 3G/UMTS Broadband is really three devices in one box. First, there's the Wireless Access Point, which lets you connect both screaming fast Wireless-G (802.11g at 54Mbps) and Wireless-B (802.11b at 11Mbps) devices to the network. There's also a built-in 4-port full-duplex 10/100 Switch to connect your wired-Ethernet devices together.
Connect four PCs directly, or attach more hubs and switches to create as big a network as you need. The Router function ties it all together and lets your whole network share a 3G/UMTS or GPRS Internet connection (requires Vodafone Mobile Connect 3G/UMTS data card, available separately).
You can also use a standard Ethernet attached Internet connection, like a cable or DSL modem, if available.
• All-in-one Internet-sharing Router, 4-port Switch, and Wireless-G (802.11g) Access Point.
• Shares a Vodafone 3G/UMTS or GPRS Internet connection and other resources with Ethernet wired and Wireless-G clients.
• Includes PC Card slot for any Vodafone Mobile Connect 3G/UMTS data card (available separately).
• High security: Wi-Fi Protected Access™ (WPA/WPA2 Personal), wireless MAC address filtering, powerful SPI firewall.
More details can be found at: the LinkSys website
Please note: the 3G/UMTS part of this was never tested as I didn't have a card available to test it with.
From the box I read it supports wireless G and wireless B and a Vodafone 3G/UMST card. It has four 10/100 ethernet ports, wireless and one 'Internet' Port (used to connect to a cabled broadband modem).
Upon opening I was surprised to find a lack of instructions or manual, however, both are on the CD, so it's not completely absent. This may or may not be an issue for you. The documentation is easy to follow, and does everything in small steps for those who aren't exactly sure what they're doing. It also covers most situations where you would use this router, including linking it to other routers, for those who run a complex network. The unit can stand up or be wall mounted. This would be my first bad point, the base should suffice, but I think the unit should fit into it a bit better, it's quite loose, not a big issue though.
Next came setting it up:
The CD does a reasonable job of configuring it for you, but advanced options are only available in the set up page of the router itself, such as port forwarding and the like.
I shall detail the interface at the end, simply for those who don't want to read about it, to avoid scrolling all the way through the review.
There were no real issues when setting everything up, however, the set up and documentation could be a bit clearer when saying the modem and router have to have a different IP address, changing the last number does not suffice and I was wondering why it wasn't working. Steps like this would help those with only basic knowledge set something up that isn't covered by 'default' options.
While scratching my head over the above issue, I contacted tech support, and to say the least I was very underwhelmed. While I may be nitpicking, if they had asked how I set up the network, the issue would have been resolved in minutes, as opposed to the hour it took to keep rebooting the router and modem and pc, and changing the IP address on the PC to automatic. But what really got me was, they then played the 'Hello are you there sir?' game. I hope I got a bad operator, and she doesn't represent everyone at tech support.
I finally got it figured out with help from the nice people at the Toms Hardware forums.
Once everything was set, the wireless laptops had no trouble connecting, and the wired PC's also connected fine. From what I've seen, the signal stays strong and constant.
This router is a welcome addition to the network here, despite issues (which I accept were due to gaps in my own knowledge), was easy to set up (once I realised what I had done wrong), the only thing I dislike about this whole mess was the Linksys tech support.
Below is detailed look at the routers options pages:
All of the options provided were more than sufficed for my needs, but as I am not a network expert, I have at least mentioned everything for those who need such.
Upon entering the set up page, you are presented with a clean interface, some of the options are buried in places I wouldn't expect (or maybe I'm just used to my old router), but for those familiar with LINKSYS that shouldn't be an issue. If moving from a D-link or the like it may be confusing though.
The main page covers internet access options, and the 3G options, along with DCHP server options, and IP addresses. Sub tabs cover other 3G options, DDNS, MAC address cloning, and advanced routing.
Overall, all the options I want are there (and then some), but I don't have advanced requirements.
Next, the wireless page,
The basic setup covers the network name, and whether you want either wireless b only, wireless g only, or both. Any modern wireless card should be g, but for maximum compatibility both is an option.
The next tab is security, and includes WPA personal and enterprise, WPA2 personal and enterprise, WEP and RADIUS security modes.
Other tabs cover MAC address filtering, and advanced options, such as authentication type, basic rates, transmission rates etc. However, these are fine on their defaults.
The security page (not to be confused with the wireless security), covers the firewall and filtering various internet requests. Also VPN options.
Next, Access restrictions page,
Included here are option to restricting computers to only be able to access the internet at certain times, or blocking PC's from accessing the internet. Along with advanced options to block DNS, Ping, HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, POP3, IMAP, SMTP, NNTP, Telnet, SNMP, TFTP or IKE protocols. It can also block web pages based on addresses or keywords.
Applications and gaming page,
These pages cover port forwarding, port triggering, DMZ options, and QoS options.
Here you'll find options to change the password to the router itself (highly recommended), plus some remote access features and turning off or on UPnP.
Other tabs here cover, logging, diagnostic tools (ping and trace route), restoring factory defaults, firmware updates, and saving or restoring settings.
Lastly, the status tab,
These pages will tell you if you connected to the 3G/UMTS services, the internet, router information such as frimware version, MAC address and Wireless status.
At first glance this doesn't look that different from any number of 'grey brick' routers... until you see the PC card slot in one side that takes your Vodafone Datacard. That is this unit's raison d'etre... to hook your Vodafone wireless access and share it with your wired and wireless compatriots. Fairly easy to set up, the defaults and auto-config are pretty effective as they are, but you will need a wired connection to a PC (Yup, PC only at this stage, but the unit comes with the network cables you'll need.) for entering your account details. After that, it's fine to drive it wirelessly. It's quite compact, less than 20cm square and about 3cm thick, and comes with a stand to allow it to sit vetically on your desk, and built-in wall-mounting holes on the back in case you want to express your artistic urges... and of course it can sit discretely flat behind the printer or something.
As far as the router aspect goes, it's a pretty bog-standard unit, with all the same features. Four yellow-coded ethernet ports to allow multiple local machines to join in the fun, plus the blue socket for hooking up to a standard landlocked broadband modem, but of course the biggest 'bonus' is that you can slap in your Vodafone datacard and use that when you are out and about on the road. If you travel for work, and don't want to pay the horrendous fees for even 0800 calls that they charge to your room's account, then this is by far your smartest option. of course, this really only comes into play if there is more than one of you... because you would just slap the card into the laptop for solo trips.
The performance of this unit is more an issue of environment more than product. If the signal is there, this unit will grab it and lock on like a pitbull, but if you have your cellphone too close (Yes, feedback works on more than just sound frequencies folks) or you are in an area where there is a lot of signal-reflective materials, you'll find your signal degrades pretty rapidly. In the end, to get a good locked signal we had to sit next to the window, because the wiring in the ceiling was setting up harmonics that confused the poor thing no end. In the end, out of the maximum rate of around 380kbps, we did pretty good, getting a fairly steady thru-put of around 275kbps. Considering the electrical environment, the type of data, and the big apartment block between us and a clear line-of-sight at the Vodafone node nearby... I think that was a pretty impressive performance really.
The standard aerial does a pretty good job of things, but if you want that extra signal-sucking power, there are optional aerials that you can purchase to enhance your chances. These shouldn't really be needed if you only need short-range connections between machines, such as adjoining motel rooms (because who ever heard of motel rooms with THICK walls?!) or within a house. Even if you don't really need the 3G coverage, this unit will still provide you with an excellent networking solution. Security-wise it's pretty flexible, supporting WEP (-urg-), WPA and WPA2, a fully-configurable built-in DHCP server and a whole swadge of VPN and Firewall stuff to boot.
Overall, this is by far your best friend when on the road, if you want to go wireless while away from the office and have more than one PC who wants to share the line. However, take care what data plan you pick... if you have a plan that gives you a relatively small data cap, you could easily chew it up and be well into penalty rates without realising it... especially if you enjoy those online FPS games. My only tiny gripe... this unit requires a 3-pin plug to run, so be sure to pack a multiboard or just a double-plug in your laptop case if you plan to hit the road. A smaller version with a rechargable battery pack would be an excellent R&D project IMHO.
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