Orinoco Residential Gateway RG-1000

orinoco-ap-thumb.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    7.5 Very good

Pros

  • Small footprint
  • supports dial-up or broadband connections.
  • Good performer

Cons

  • Only 64-bit WEP
  • single Ethernet port.

The RG-1000 from Orinoco supports both dial-up and broadband connections -- it has a built-in V.92 modem and an Ethernet port which supports PPPoE. It's also a good performer. However, the single Ethernet port limits the combinations of wired and wireless clients and Internet connection methods you can use.

Orinoco is the brand used by Agere Systems for its wireless networking products. Agere in turn is a spin-off from Lucent Technologies, and much of the technology used in the Orinoco range was developed there. It's also a popular choice for other vendors to rebadge, so if you have a wireless network adapter from a PC vendor, the chances are it's an Orinoco card in disguise.

The RG-1000 Residential Gateway is one of Orinoco's range of access products, this being the least specified and lowest priced. The RG-1000 has a single Ethernet port which can be used to connect to a broadband connection or a wired LAN, but not both. There's also a V.90 modem built into the unit, so you can use a dial-up connection if you don't have broadband. The Residential Gateway is bundled with a PC Card adapter, so if you only have a single notebook PC you won't need any more equipment to get connected.

The rather natty looking unit stands upright, and all the cables connect to it inside a clip-on cover at the rear. The cover also features three screw mounting points, so you can put the RG-1000 on a wall -- although bear in mind that it will stick out from the wall by 15cm.

The RG-1000 has a built-in DHCP server, which can serve both wired and wireless clients, and you can select which of these you want to give addresses to. If you're using the wireless interface to connect local clients and the Ethernet port to connect to a broadband connection, you won't want the RG-1000 responding to DHCP requests from the Internet.

Note that the standard RG-1000 as supplied in the UK only supports 64-bit WEP encryption. However, since a knowledgeable and determined attacker can break WEP of any bit length, and 64-bit is enough to deter a casual snooper, you shouldn't let this affect your decision greatly.

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Orinoco supplies its RG Manager software for configuration. This is an uncomplicated package which is aimed at users with simple requirements. It allows you to set which Internet access method you use, how IP addresses are assigned and whether to use WEP encryption.

You also get a full-blown Access Point Manager package, which provides control over every aspect of the RG-1000's operation, but is more complicated to use. You'll have to use the AP Manager if you want to alter the firewall settings -- to configure port forwarding or a DMZ host, for example.

Both these applications appear to use SNMP to manage the access point, and it's possible, using the AP manager application, to limit which hosts on which interfaces are allowed to send SNMP commands to the RG-1000. You should use this facility, since SNMP's own built-in security is poor and can be broken by a determined attacker. You can also control which wireless adapters are allowed to access the network by MAC address, preventing unscrupulous neighbours using your connection.

Performance is good, as you'd expect from the original developer of the hardware. The RG-1000's throughput using the PC Card adapter is second only to that of the Zoom access point. With a USB client, only ELSA's results are higher, and then only by the smallest fraction.

The RG-1000 is good in that it will work with both dial-up and broadband connections, which is quite a rare quality. That you can't use wired clients with a broadband network is a drawback, but it may be one you're prepared to live with.

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