March 18th, 2008
As time goes by, more and more personal devices are able to connect to the internet. Devices like your iPod, laptops, phones, etc. With the exception of phones, the connection of choice seems to be WiFi.
Now it’s cool when you’re at home where you have WiFi but when you’re out you won’t always have internet access. You also have to deal with the dilemma of which of your devices you want to pay to get on the net when you’re out. You could connect your phone to your laptop via Bluetooth but what about your iPod? If you pay for WiFi at a coffee shop what happens when you leave?
Here’s where the Cradlepoint PHS300 comes in. You connect your USB cellular modem (or certain phones) to it and then it allows you to share the connection with all of your WiFi enabled devices. It’s a brilliant idea.
It’s portable so you have to throw a battery into the mix. There’s a removable (sort of) Li Ion battery that lasts for around 90 mins if you’re using a USB modem. So you have to charge the PHS300 when you’re not using it. If you’re close to a electrical outlet then you can connect the router to the wall and won’t have to worry about battery life.
The reason I say it’s sort of removable is because it’s virtually impossible to remove without using tools. It’s just such a tight fit. To make matters worse, the battery that Cradlepoint includes doesn’t have a ‘lip’ for you to use to pry out the battery. It seems a Kyocera Model TXBAT10073 extended battery is compatible and fits plus it has a lip though in practice the lip doesn’t help. To remove the Cradlepoint battery, I had to gouge the plastic with my car keys to remove it. The Kyocera battery is a little easier. I haven’t changed batteries since.
There’s no network jack – which is fine by me since it makes the unit smaller but some may miss this.
There isn’t much to compare the PHS300 too but I thought it was acceptable as far as size goes. It’s not tiny, it’s not large. It’s similar in size to a portable notebook hard drive which means it is not an awkward shape (very important if it’s portable).
You charge the PHS300 with the included AC adapter. It’s slightly bigger than the average phone AC adapter. Since it’s a portable router it would be nice if you could also charge it using your computer’s USB port. There is also an optional cigarette lighter adapter for your car.
There are 3 status LED’s; power, phone and WiFi. If the phone LED is red there’s a problem with the connection to your phone. Try unplugging your modem or phone and plugging it back in.
I tested the PHS300 with a Novatel U720 EVDO modem. It works well but I often found that I could not get online if I left the modem plugged in when I powered the router on. I found I could get online sometimes if I’ve used the modem recently (like in the past 30 minutes) otherwise I’d have to wait till the router is on to plug the modem in. It’s not a big deal but can get annoying.
The router admin panel is pretty much exactly the same as a Dlink router’s. Option for option, page for page. Before I describe it I found it to be missing 2 important pieces of information; battery remaining and a cumulative data counter. These 2 things are pretty ‘portable EVDO router’ specific so I’m pretty disappointed they’re not included.
Otherwise you get lots of router-y options. You can find a complete map of the PHS300′s menu options after the review.
Speed wise the PHS300 is pretty transparent (it doesn’t slow your connection down). Unfortunately my U720 modem broke half way through the review so I don’t have any numbers. The PHS300 has Wipipe technology that’s supposed to speed your connection up. I suspect it’s just packet prioritization software so that if you’re downloading a number of things and try to stream something, the stream packets will get priority.
Besides wireless security (WPA/hiding the SSD/MAC address filtering) you can require users to type in a password before they can access the net.
Battery life is claimed to be 60 to 90 minutes. I didn’t get a chance to test this (since my modem broke). I will update this review when I get it replaced.
There’s a chat function that people can use to talk with other people connected to the router.
One use I didn’t really discuss is if you’re somewhere where you have very weak network signal. You can put the PHS300 where there is a strong network signal (like in another room by the window) and get service elsewhere.
While not perfect, the PHS300 is a really useful device. Probably the worst things about it are (in order): Sometimes you have to plug your modem in AFTER you’ve turned the PHS300 on. The battery life is too short plus the battery is not easy to remove (would make the battery is too short point less important). There is no battery meter and cumulative data counter info in the router control panel.
- Cellular Modem PPP Settings
- DNS and Advanced Settings
- Lan Settings
- DNS Relay
- DHCP server enable
- DHCP settins
- number of dynamic DHCP clients
- add DHCP reservations
- Basic wireless settings (network name, visible/invisible, 802.11b,g,b/g, auto channel select, rando channel select, super G Mode, channel, transmission rate)
- Wireless security mode (WEP/WPA)
- WPA (WPA or WPA2 or both)
- virtual server (aka port forwarding)
- special applications
- application level gateway configuration (IPSec VPN, RTSP, FTP, SIP, Wake-on-lan)
- Add special applications rule
- traffic shaping
- access control
- web filter
- mac address filter
- inbound filter
- advanced wireless
- modem settings
- Admin password
- Internet access password
- gateway name
- enable remote managment
- remote admin port
- remote admin inbound filter
- admin idle timeout
- Save and restore configuration
- Time configuration (time zone, DST)
- Automatic time configuration (NTP server)
- Set time and date manually (set manually, copy computer’s time settings)
- enable (enable logging, specify server to send logs to)
- enable email notifications
- email settings (from, to, SMTP server address, enable authentication)
- email log when full or on schedule
- system commands (reboot device, restore to factory settings)
- firmware information
- firmware upgrade
- firmware upgrade notifications options
- Dynamic DNS
- dynamic DNS (changeip.com, DNSomatic.com, DynDNS.org, easyDNS.com, EuroDynDNS.org, no-ip.com, ods.org, OpenDNS.org, ovh.com, regfish.com, tzo.com)
- Device Info
- General (time/firmware version)
- WAN (connection type, connection up time, ip address, subnet mask, default gateway, primary and secondary DNS server)
- Number of wireless clients
- Routing table
- WAN statistics
- Wireless Statistics
- Active Sessions
- Modem Info
- Device Info