Pros: Easy to Use, Single Integrated Unit, Excellent Firewall, Great Customer Support
Cons: No WPA Support, Sparse Documentation, No USB Printer Support
My networking activities were born out of necessity; I have an older home, with a broadband connection on one floor and computers on two others. Originally, I maintained dial up accounts and a separate telephone line, but that got old (and slow, and expensive). So my first foray into home networking was a wireless access point (with mixed results - see my review of the SMC Barricade); eventually, I stumbled upon a HomePNA solution that worked decently for some time and provided a hardware firewall to boot. Over time, my home network expanded to include a print server, a much better wireless access point, and powerline Ethernet adapters (I LOVE those things!).
However, as the number of devices increased, so did the associated real estate both in my den and on the power strip. Periodically I would check the stores for a more comprehensive solution, but typically I could only find limited combinations 4 port switch/print server, router/firewall, wireless router/firewall. When I asked if anyone made an all-in-one, the answer was always flat out no. I didnt really care though it was really more of a nice to have than a need to have - until my 4 port switch/print server failed and my wireless router went a little wonky.
I started doing research again, went to all the stores to look at product, had pretty much settled on replacements and then found nirvana (the state, not the band). I stumbled upon The SBG1000 kind of. There was a sign in the store, and a glaringly empty display, but no product. An exhaustive search finally found a place that had it in stock, but the price literally increased $5 - $10 a week every week until I purchased it.
So What Does It Do?
Out of the box, the SBG1000 is:
* a DOCSIS? 1.0 CableLabs? Certified cable modem - You can connect to the cable modem via Ethernet or through a USB connection (both cables are included)
* an Ethernet Router with 5-port switch In addition to the 5 ethernet ports, the SBG1000 also includes a HomePNA port, allowing remote workstations to connect to the router over standard telephone wires
* an 802.11b wireless access point supports 64-bit and 128-bit Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) security
* a hardware firewall
* an single port print server
What Makes This So Fantastic?
Easy to use
So, I unpacked it, called my provider, read them the MAC address, plugged it in, and I was back online. The SBG1000 is supported by most of the major providers, and it was operational quicker than the equipment they provided. And there was no software to install you access the units control panel through your web browser.
The SBG1000 is only slightly larger than my old switch/print server but it replaced 3 other devices! And there is no bulky transformer that you have to make room for.
I have total control over my ports I can open or close as many as I want, as dictated by the various applications on my computer. Other firewalls limited the maximum number of ports that I could open, often preventing me from using an application unless I shut down the firewall. And when I went to Gibson Research to test the firewall, I got the best results of any firewall Ive owned.
What Could Be Better?
Setting up a printer on the print server wasnt intuitive, and the documentation was minimal. Likewise, configuring the firewall and the wireless access point required more explanation than was easily obtained in the manual.
However, customer support is outstanding, and less than 5 minutes on the phone (in total) provided all of the guidance that I needed.
No USB Printer Support
Not a big deal for me because my laser printer is actually a parallel port printer, but if you have a newer, USB only connection, youre out of luck.
No WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) Support
Some argue that this is a more secure protocol, but at present the SBG1000 is only WEP enabled. However, it does support the 128-bit, which should be more than sufficient for the typical home user.
I think this is an amazing device. Simple to use, with none of the configuration problems that have plagued me with other devices (even using a third party wireless card went off without a hitch). If you are in the market for an upgrade, I would strongly recommend the SBG1000.