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Written by Carl 'lowlight' Nelson [07.25.00]
***Please read Part 1 if you haven't yet.***
Manufactured by: ZyXEL, Umax, Netgear, Linksys, D-Link, Nexland, and MacSense
Suggested Retail Price Price: Varies - $100-200
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Nexland ISB2LAN-H4

The ISB2LAN (one port version) was the very first router to support PPPoE.  What does that mean? PPPoE is what many cable ISP's use to allow users to log on to attain a dynamic ISP.  Most still use DHCP servers to assign an IP address to each user, but you might need PPPoE support in your router.

If you look at Nexland's site, you will see that they heavily push the fact that they support PPPoE.  This tells me that they haven't updated in a while, because EVERY other router supports it now, some with a firmware upgrade.

My question to Nexland is how they justify the $350 price tag.  This is a basic 4 port hub unit, with the same basic html setup used by Umax and Linksys.  I see nothing special here... It may have been the first Cable/xDSL router ever, but prices are dropping a lot lately, with competition growing.

1. Ease of Installation

Like most of the newer routers, the ISB2LAN supports html configuration.  A word of warning though, there is no default password when you first start the router up.  This doesn't pose much of a threat to most users at home, since the configuration can't be reached from outside your own network, but just make sure you set a password when you're finished setting it up!

This is a setup screen in its simplest form, huh? Please excuse the resize... Here you have a choice of entering the IP, Netmask, and Gateway your ISP gives to you if you have a static connection, or the Device Name if you have a dynamic connection and are using DHCP.  There is also a simple PPPoE setup screen.  The only thing I didn't like about this setup is that it wasn't on the first page.  In fact, you have to go through 2 pages, then enter the advanced menu to be able to set this up.  Newbies may need to use the manual to help them through it...

2. Value

$350.  This is the most expensive router we received.  Furthermore, we could NOT find a better price anywhere else; nobody seems to carry these! You can buy them directly from Nexland, but you will have to pay their suggested retail price.

Why is it so high? I don't know! It is a basic router that offers the same basic functions as any of the other better ones.  The thing is, it contains a 4 port NON-SWITCHING hub.  This could be problems with bigger networks, as you'll find some collisions, and bandwidth hogging.

It does come with some good Ethernet cable though.  Included are both a crossover cable, if you want to attach it to a hub, and a REALLY long straight CAT 5 Ethernet cable.  The quality of the cables rivaled those of Netgear and ZyXEL. 

To sum it up: We're giving the ISB2LAN a "C-" in value.

3. Virtual Server Setup

The ISB2LAN-H4 had one of the more advanced virtual server configurations out of the bunch.  There are two sections to set up your virtual servers, one with the basic ports listed (http, ftp, telnet, etc), and one where you can specify your own ports.  I don't know why they made it two separate screens, but they did.


This is the "Basic Virtual Server" settings screen

It's great to be able to specify whether you want to open the UDP or TCP port.  Advanced virtual server setup is great, but it seems a little over-complicated.  You can't browse the network for the IP you are setting the server on, so make sure you have your IP's memorized!


And this is the "Custom Virtual Server" screen.  Notice that you can choose the protocol of the port you are opening, something we are seeing more and more often with firmware updates.

4. Flash Upgrading

Good news: No serial cable needed! You do have to download a separate software utility (contained with the firmware release) and use that.  Overall, using the program was very easy.  Specify the BIN file, specify the target router, and download.  After that, you can uninstall the utility.

5. Taste Test

  • Ease of Installation: B No software required; just fire up the ol' browser! You do need to look around to find the main setup screen, though.
  • Value: C- The price seems VERY outdated to me, but that is indeed what they are charging today.  Maybe you can find it cheaper elsewhere; if you do, tell me, and I'll update this page.  As it stands though, $350 is WAY too much.  You can get PPPoE support in any other routers, and IPSec passthrough in most of them with a firmware upgrade.
  • Virtual Server Setup: B They do complicate things a little, but you get to control everything you need.
  • Flash Upgrading: C No serial cable required, but you do need to install software.

Overall: C- / 55% (Not scaled to out normal grading system)

    

Next: MacSense XRouter Pro MIH-130

Cable/xDSL Router Shootout Part 2 Table of Contents:

Page 1: Introduction
Page 2: Nexland ISB2LAN-H4
Page 3: MacSense XRouter PRO MIH-130
Page 4: Linksys BEFSR41
Page 5: Security!
Page 6: ZyXEL and Netgear: Twin Brothers?
Page 7: Features/Comparative Matrix/Conclusion

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