The SOHO+ is one of four Virtual Private Network (VPN) routers being introduced to the Australian market by SnapGear, an offshoot of Lineo. Aimed primarily at the small business market, the SOHO+ offers a range of server side functionality, from DHCP serving to firewalling.
Powered by the embedded uClinux (a version of Linux tailored for smaller processors), the SOHO+ has two serial ports, and two 10BaseT ports for LAN and WAN connectivity. The design is intended for use with broadband access services such as ADSL and cable, with the serial ports allowing conventional modem access. Automatic failover from broadband to modem is not yet available but is planned for future models. Dial-in server support with MSCHAP, CHAP and PAP authentication is also a feature.
Setting up the SOHO+ is made easy with the automated Windows-based setup wizard: it was simply a matter of inserting the CD and following the step-by-step instructions. If your network is DHCP-enabled, the SnapGear will automatically obtain an IP address; if not, you will need to set one manually. From there, it's a matter of setting the password for access to the device and then connecting it to the Internet.
Standard DHCP functionality allows the SOHO+ to be used as a gateway to all computers on the LAN, and there is no default limit to the number of computers able to connect. The common IPSec VPN protocol is supported, as is the Windows standard Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP).
The company offers its customers free firmware upgrades during the two-year (one if unregistered) warranty period. Thirty days free technical support is also included.
Overall, the SnapGear SOHO+ is ideal for small businesses looking to get a VPN server happening quickly with Windows clients. The unit also joins a growing list of appliances using an embedded Linux platform.
4 stars; Price: $799; Distributor: Serverbits.Com; Phone: (07) 3552 6060; URL: www.snapgear.com