RealTime IT News

Nexland WaveBase

Model Number: ISB WAVEBASE ($399 MSRP)

The Nexland WaveBase is an connection sharing device with both wireless 802.11-based Internet routing for up to 253 mobile users and a 4-port 10/100 Ethernet switch. The unit also features DHCP server function and the ability to establish a new route to the Internet via modem (analog or ISDN) should the broadband route fail. For security it offers a NAT firewall (with built in support for many popular applications that require firewall port access), group based port filtering, support for VPN pass thru, and

Pros:

  • Unit supports high speeds
  • Firewall works well
  • Unit is extremely easy to configure
  • Includes Orinoco wireless NIC

Cons:

  • Only supports a single DMZ server
  • Only supports a single L2TP session

SETUP/INSTALLATION

When I received my Nexland WaveBase, it sounded like a loose screw was rolling around inside of the case. I tried for a few minutes to get the screw out, but after not having any luck I dismissed the sound as case noise. I went ahead and attempted to power the unit up, but had to flip the power switch four or five times before being successful.

The next step in the process was connecting the unit to my network. Attaching the WaveBase to my broadband connection was no problem, but connecting the unit to my LAN proved to be difficult. Although the unit claims to be able to attach to a network hub to allow more PCs to connect to the unit, I was unable to attach to the unit when passing through an external hub. I then attached a PC directly to the unit via the built in RJ-45 ports, with no initial problems.

At this point, I began to configure the unit via the Web interface. I found the Web interface extremely easy to use, and the prompts were very intuitive. This was one of the easier routers to set up that I have seen. The big problem was that every time that you make any configuration changes to the unit, you must reboot the unit (just like most other routers). I had a very difficult time reconnecting to the unit after every reboot. Each reboot required me to manually power the unit off and back on several times before I was able to reconnect.

Eventually the unit died after a reboot. The staff at Nexland was very courteous and helped me to ship the dead unit back and quickly get a new unit. The new unit didnt have the case noise or the difficulties connecting to the network that my original unit had. The problem of not being able to attach to a hub also went away with the new unit.

PERFORMANCE

Since the original unit could have been damaged during shipping, Im going to base my review on the replacement unit.

The WaveBase performed well over all. The unit boasts 8Mbps of upstream and downstream throughput. I was unable to verify this as my DSL connection is nowhere near this fast. However, I was able to confirm through http://www.dslreports.com/stest that the unit was able to use my DSL connection to its full potential.

The units wireless performance was also good. When in the same room, the wireless connection ran at about 4.9 Mbps. When I tested the connection at the other end of the building, on the same floor or one floor down but directly below the WaveBase unit, performance dropped off only slightly to 4.8 Mbps throughput. When I took the unit a couple of floors down to a room full of metal duct work and structural components, the performance dropped dramatically to about 900 Kbps. This room was at least 75 feet away from the unit and was probably one of the worst possible environments for wireless devices. When I returned the notebook PC to a location with a stronger signal, I enabled 128 bit WEP. Upon doing so, the throughput dropped to about 4.6 Mbps.

VIRTUAL SERVERS and PORT MAPPING

The unit did support virtual servers, but only allowed a single server to be accessed through the firewall. While the virtual server support did work, I would like to have seen support for multiple servers. Also the virtual server support was check box based. For example, you could select check boxes to determine whether functions such as HTTP, FTP, and E-mail should be allowed. I would like to have more control over the process rather than being limited to enabling or disabling only the most common ports.

ACCESS CONTROL

The port filtering function worked just the way that it was supposed to. I tested the port filtering with the various utilities at http://grc.com. All probed ports were reported to be running in Stealth mode.

SUMMARY

I was very optimistic when I initially received the WaveBase. Its always possible that my first unit was defective and that the problems that I encountered are not common in other devices. However, the problems do raise some questions about Nexlands quality control practices. The price tag of $399 doesn't help. Despite decent performance and some good features, it's not a product we can recommend without reservation.