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.

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