|Name||Router/firewall: DrayTek Vigor2820Vn|
|At a glance:||Strong and flexible firewall,Easy configuration,Powerful WiFi features,Logging via Syslog|
|Summary:||A full-featured router and firewall for the small to medium business.|
Let’s face it, small-business IT setups can be a bit of an ad hoc affair. Walking into a server closet (the miniature version of a server room) you’re likely to find an arrangement of mismatched components, patched together with overly-long cables and cheap power boards. While such a setup can definitely work, it’s not exactly fault-resistant or maintainable.
The Vigor2820 series of ADSL2+ “Security Routers” from DrayTek consolidate the functionality of all those consumer-end devices (ADSL modem, router, hardware firewall) into a serious but tiny machine, suitable for the small-to-medium business.
I tried out the 2820Vn both in the PC World test centre and at home, where I have a small business-load of IT gear in action. The first thing I noticed – and this is particularly significant for a router – was the absolute ease with which the Vigor2820 can be configured.
I had to refer to the manual just once, to find the default IP address, username and password. That’s pretty much true of anything network connected. Apart from that, I found I could work my way through the browser-based interface easier than any router or hardware-firewall I’ve worked with before.
Simple or not, there’s a lot to work through: the Vigor2820Vn is the most feature-packed in the 2820 range. In addition to its core features – modem, router and firewall – you’ll also find a powerful Wi-Fi access point supporting multiple SSIDs, hardware VPN support, and Voice over IP (VoIP).
Not enough for you? The Vigor2820 can also function as a basic NAS box or print server, via its single USB port (attach a USB hard drive or printer respectively). Neither of these is really its forte: while it’s quite capable in both regards, it can’t compete with the performance of a dedicated NAS box or the feature set of a true network-enabled printer. These devices are better connected to the router via Ethernet, leaving it free to do its main job.
Larger businesses with logging infra-structure in place will appreciate the Vigor2820’s ability to record events to any Syslog server, helping you consolidate your logs in one place. If you don’t have a Syslog server handy, you can opt to log in plaintext to any USB drive connected directly to the router.
While the impressive “object-based” firewall draws the most attention to the Vigor2820, I must admit I was even more impressed by its Wi-Fi capabilities. The only proxy-free internet in our building is provided by the PC World test network. In addition to letting us download massive executable files for the DVD, it also proves popular among our local iPhone users and the occasional laptop-enabled guest.
With the Vigor2820, I was able to set up separate wireless networks for PC World users, iPhone users and visitors. Better still, I could set maximum upload and download thresholds for each. I don’t mind iPhone users streaming audio over our network, as long as it doesn’t impact my download speeds when I’m testing product or filling up the DVD.
If you use wireless around the office and find yourself giving out the password to every guest and mobile-device user alike, a router like this is really a must-buy.
The price is a fair bit higher than pure consumer models, but definitely reasonable for the features on offer. Also available are a wired only version (the DV2820) at $699 and a Wi-Fi version without the VoIP support (DV2820N) at $884 including GST. Unless you have a specific need for VoIP, I’d recommend saving yourself $159 and getting the DV2820N.