Nexland ISB SOHO Router/Firewall
Product sample provided by: Nexland
Date posted: 04/10/02
A few days ago I was contacted by a fellow at Nexland asking if we would be interested in reviewing one of their products. After visiting their website I got the impression that they cater to the enterprise market a bit more than Netgear, Linksys, and D-link do. They certainly make some very high end routers and VPN boxes. The product that I chose for this review is a router of the SOHO flavor. That stands for "Small Office/Home Office" which generally means all round best value.
The roles of a router
As I said in my review of the D-link DSS8+ ethernet switch, there are several items that are increasing in demand and popularity almost in direct proportion to the number of home owners with high speed internet connections. The router is one such device with its main purpose being to share an Internet connection and protect the computers behind it.
The way I understand NAT (Network Address Translation) is quite simple. It goes like this, the router sends and receives traffic for all the computers on the network by filtering and attaching identification headers on each packet so that external servers can communicate with machines on the router's network.
One of the other main tasks of a router is to be a Firewall. My understanding of this is that because you only have a single external ip by which hackers can enter you make it much easier to keep that one connection secure. Couple this with the fact that the router locks all extra ports by default making it very tight and secure. Granted you can create what is called a "pin hole" which simply forwards all traffic from the port of your choice to an internal ip of your choice. This is necessary if you will be running a webserver behind the router for example.
• NAPT Firewall to Protect your Computers
• High Speed 4-Port 10/100 Switch with Duplex (200Mb)
• Over 8MB Bi-Directional Throughput for Blazing Speed
• Supports up to 253 Computers
• Single Session IPsec Pass-Through
• Supports PPPoE
• Excellent Internet application compatibility
• Solid Reliability of Nexland Technology... No Freezes!
• CAT5 Cable Included ($15 value)
• 5 Year Warranty & 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
Port Type: 10/100BASE-TX (RJ-45) - 4
WAN ports: 10BASE-T (RJ-45) - 1
Pictures and Installation
Almost the complete opposite of the dark gray color of my existing SMC router I was greeted by the ISB (Internet Sharing Box) SOHO's clear plastic casing. For me however, looks is very unimportant since all my networking gear lives in a closet. Also noteworthy is the fact that the ISB is fanless, a great feature for devices that run 24/7.
Installation literally took a minute or less including the time it took to configure and connect. This is not the first router I have installed so your experience may vary. However, I can say that my SMC and this router are equally easy to setup. The quick start guide is clear, easy to follow and brief. I unplugged the SMC and put the ISB in it's place, connected it to the D-link switch's uplink port and that was it.
My ISP has me use PPPoE since I don't have a static ip, so after putting in my username and password I connected, turned off DHCP since I use my Linux box for that, and forwarded port 80 to port 80 on my Linux box which is blackbox.savagezone.net. One excellent feature was the administrative help. If you have a question about any of the sections or options the answers are as close as the question mark in the upper right hand corner. Throughout my experience the web interface was very speedy and bug free.
Nexland advertises speed and reliability as the main reasons for buying this router over the competitors. Long term reliability is not something that can be tested in just a few days, all I can say is that it has worked flawlessly in the time that I've used it.
Based on the speedtest at bandwidthplace.com there was no difference between this router and my SMC Barricade. Perhaps Nexland is referring to the support for a 8MB connection speed as being the performance advantage. If this is the case my 1.5MB/128K DSL line is no help in testing that. Nowhere in the SMC Barricade pdf could I find what the max throughput was. So if you have a very fast connection speed peace of mind would be a reason for choosing the Nexland.
Choice between price and warranty length is where the buying decision gets really difficult. Linksys, D-Link and SMC 4 port routers on Buy.com were around 80 USD as opposed to the Nexland's 159 USD. If you noticed in the specifications above the ISB SOHO has a 5 year warranty versus the 1 year that these others have.
- 5 year warranty
- Cat 5 Cable included
Final Rating: 9/10
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