SOHOmate HiP-100

To configure the HiP-100, point a browser at its IP address, which is in one of the private ranges not accessible from the Internet. Fill out forms to set the dialup numbers, passwords and so on.

The Web interface is provided by a 186 processor and a small operating system which runs from flash RAM. This also handles the dialling, firewalling, load balancing and sharing functions, using 4MB of RAM, and looks a lot like Linux.

While it is a simple matter to print through a network, it's good to have the printer always available, regardless of which computer is powered. The e-mail sharing facility sorts mail sent to one address, which is clearly inferior to real e-mail addresses from your ISP. You can also send faxes.

My main concern about this product is security. The processes running inside it do their best to remain incognito, but the unit as supplied was running two programs for which exploits exist. These and any other vulnerabilities which come to light can only be fixed by updating the entire OS with a flash file from AMIT. This is simple enough, but means relying entirely on their competence and continued support of the product.

If you only have one phone line, perhaps it would be better to hold out for cable or ADSL, and share that connection using software (see the Micronica site for a cable version of the SOHOmate). If you have two phone lines, though, and haven't yet networked the computers in your home or office, this is a cost-effective way to get them all on the Net. Nothing is ever foolproof - you can change the administrator password and then forget it - but this product comes close.

SOHOmate HiP-100

Price: $665

Distributor: Micronica

Phone: (03) 9699 8844

URL: www.micronica.com.au

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