iiNet BoB modem router

iiNet's BoB modem router offers built in VoIP support

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Iinet BoB
  • Iinet BoB
  • Iinet BoB
  • Iinet BoB

Pros

  • Attractive, extremely simple to set up, can use handsets with multiple BoB units, storage and 3G Internet sharing, two simultaneous VoIP SIP accounts

Cons

  • 802.11n Wi-Fi only works on the 2.4GHz frequency, 100Mbps wired networking, slow wireless transfer speeds, some features yet to be enabled

Bottom Line

iiNet's BoB may not be the best VoIP modem router currently available but it is one of the easiest to set up and use. The BoB combines your telephone, Internet, and home networking in a sleek package.

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iiNet's BoB — "Broadband in a Box" — is an ADSL2+ modem router with built-in VoIP support that combines telephony, Internet access and both wired and wireless networking in a sleek and slim package.

The iiNet BoB isn't the first device of its kind; Engin also sells an all-in-one VoIP modem router made by Thomson called the oneHUB. Unlike the oneHUB, however, BoB isn't an off-the-shelf router repackaged for iiNet. It was made in tandem with Belkin in order to ensure it was a simple and an attractive addition to the living room. Indeed, its appearance is somewhat Apple-esque.

For $369, you get the BoB base unit with a handset and charging dock. The modem router itself integrates 802.11n Wi-Fi and four 100Mbps Ethernet ports. There are three standard phone jacks: an ADSL2+ connection, PSTN failover line and a third port to connect a standard telephone. Two USB ports on the side of BoB can be used to plug in external hard drives, 3G USB modems and can even charge mobile phones and MP3 players.

The BoB modem router is preconfigured with your iiNet login details and VoIP SIP settings. Any handsets bought with the BoB are pre-registered to the base. The default Wi-Fi SSID — "WLAN" — is initially unprotected, but iiNet is planning to pre-configure wireless encryption in the near future.

The BoB modem router supports up to five DECT handsets (cordless telephones) in total. They can be purchased from iiNet for $69 each. Unlike the initial handset, these won't be automatically registered to the base. Each handset can be registered with up to four BoB base units — this is a plus for small businesses with multiple units — but it can only talk to one individual BoB at a time. This can be configured so the handset either switches automatically or manually between BoB base units.

Using PC World's Broadband Speed Test, the BoB modem router recorded a download speed of 15.5 megabits per second (Mbps) and an upload speed of 971 kilobits per second (Kbps). These speeds are roughly the same as engin's oneHUB.

BoB's integrated Wi-Fi is the 802.11n draft standard, and it only works over the 2.4GHz frequency. It can't transmit over the 5GHz radio band, so it won't support 802.11a devices and might face interference from cordless telephones and surrounding wireless networks. You can configure two wireless networks simultaneously — main and guest Wi-Fi networks for example — from a single BoB base unit, but these can only be configured over the same channel on the 2.4GHz frequency. Our file transfer tests yielded a speed of 682 kilobytes per second (KBps) at 2m, but this slowed to 600KBps at 20m. This means the BoB won't be great for constantly transferring large files around the house via Wi-Fi, but will still be able to share an ADSL2+ connection adequately between different users.

The storage/3G USB port on the iiNet BoB modem router supports external hard drives formatted to FAT32 and NTFS, but lacks support for HFS+ file systems (used in Mac OS X) and won't recognise USB hubs. Once connected, the hard drive will be appear in the Web interface, where it can be shared locally or remotely over HTTP or FTP. Since the BoB modem router doesn't support other sharing protocols like SMB or AFP, you will only be able to read files already on the hard drive.

One feature that didn't quite make it to BoB's launch is 3G USB modem support; iiNet plans to enable this in its first major firmware update, which should arrive in the coming weeks. Once enabled, BoB will recognise 3G/HSDPA USB modems (those made by Huawei initially) and can distribute the Internet connection over both Wi-Fi and Ethernet. However, BoB will choose the DSL connection by default and use the 3G modem as a failover, unless this is changed in the Web interface.

Though available exclusively through iiNet, the BoB modem router isn't locked to the ISP. You can easily change ADSL2+ settings, and the router even allows you to have two different VoIP accounts on the same base unit. Unfortunately, both VoIP SIP accounts must be with the same provider.

If you're looking to stream high-definition media across the house, the iiNet BoB modem router isn't for you. If, however, you're not particularly tech savvy or you want to easily set up an all-in-one VoIP system for an office of five to 10 people, the BoB has definite potential. We appreciate the ability to set up three different telephone numbers (two VoIP and one PSTN), and features like storage sharing and 3G USB modem will definitely come in handy. There are cheaper routers that offer similar functionality, but there aren't many that do it quite so simply or attractively as iiNet's BoB.

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