SOHOware Broadband Internet Gateway – Evaluation
HOC RATING 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
AS MORE AND MORE users get high-speed Internet connections, there’s more and more demand for ways to share them. SOHOware’s four-port Broadband Internet Gateway ($200; 800-632-1118, www. sohoware.com) is a new entry in the field of cable- or DSL-sharing hubs. Essentially, these are Ethernet hubs with a bit of firmware that let them fool your ISP into thinking there’s only one computer at your end of the pipe.
The SOHOware gateway is built on a 10BaseT hub. While its 10Mbps speed is ample for most broadband connections, it’s not up to the pace Fast Ethernet network users might be accustomed to for in-house file sharing.
The hub serves as a hardware firewall, protecting your PC from unauthorized intruders (with a “gaming zone” feature that turns off the firewall to facilitate Internet game play). A parental-control feature locks out all Web access, except to sites you specify and those in the innocuous .org, .edu, and .gov domains.
According to the box, the gateway is easy to use with Windows, Mac, and Linux systems. Unfortunately, the user’s guide doesn’t explain how to set up a Mac or Linux computer on the network. Worse, although it mentions that subscribers to some ISPs such as Cox@Home may need to fine-tune their software configurations, it gives no examples of how to do so.
Our installation involved two hours on hold and a callback from SOHOware’s toll-free support line, but after that the gateway worked as promised–both of our computers enjoyed simultaneous Web access with no noticeable loss of speed. And once setup is over, the device runs agreeably in the background, virtually maintenance-free.
The Broadband Internet Gateway is a solid solution, but more demanding home office network users can find gateways with faster hubs or routers for the same or less money.
[pros] Low maintenance; switchable firewall for after-hours fun
[cons] 10Mbps speed limit; skimpy documentation
HOME OFFICE COMPUTING rates products on ascale of 1 to 10–with few 9’s or 10’s–based on value, performance, innovation (medals go to rare standouts in these areas], ease of use, and suitability for home offices. The [pros] and [cons] symbols indicate pros and cons.
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