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Dialup Redeemed: The WiFlyer Modem+Hotspot 170

Those who've moved to broadband connections and wireless links to each PC on their home or office network are unlikely to look back fondly on the days of 56K (or the not-so-snappy 300 baud of my first modem). Still, even if most Internet users really do have broadband, and (unless you've forsaken a landline telephone completely), dialup is a useful adjunct to even the spiffiest broadband access. And sometimes, it's the only access available. Most city dwellers don't face the distance limits of DSL (or even the geographic limitations of cable service), and cheapskate travelers know that free local calls are more common than hotels with free WiFi. However, wireless access and modems aren't the most common combination (especially when you're talking about laptops with a built-in modem port), and it's not fun being tied to whatever length of phone cord you have to hand. AlwaysOn Wireless's device called the WiFlyer (about $150) combines a wireless access point, a DHCP server, and a modem to make dealing with dialup a bit easier, and tosses in a few other features as well. The WiFlyer is a brilliant device, with some limitations; read on for my review.

Introducing the WiFlyer

There are some other small wireless base stations around, like the Asus WL-530g and the Apple Airport Express, both of which do a good job of turning an available broadband connection wireless, but to my knowledge no others which pack a modem into such a small base station. (The larger Apple Airports do have a modem, as have some devices from Lucent and others, but they're much bulkier.) Each of these tiny base station has its pros and cons -- the Airport Express adds in audio transport, for instance, and like the WL-530g it's a full-fledged 802.11g device -- so your use will determine which makes the most sense. For me, though, the WiFlyer basically hits the sweet spot: it's light, extensible, works as advertised (with one exception, below), and let me connect both my laptops via friends' DSL and cable modems, and over Plain Old Telephone Service.

Physically, the WiFlyer is a slightly rounded grey box that looks it should double as a radar detector. The case is small -- at roughly 1x3x5", about the size of my (old) Handspring Visor, and only 6.5 ounces including the AC power supply. That makes it a good candidate for tossing in a laptop case; at that weight, it's not exactly hefty, but seems solid enough to take travel without complaint. Helpfully, it comes with a wall-wart that's forgivable for not being a line-lump, because the transformer end is small enough -- tiny! -- to stick in one AC socket without obstructing the outlet's other plug. The rear of the device holds the various ins and outs: two ethernet ports (one in from a broadband connection, one out to a local machine), an RJ-11 jack for a telephone line, and the DC power jack.

My only complaint about the WiFlyer's physical design is that it lacks a built-in means (perhaps in the form of a plastic case like the expansion sleeve of the Compaq iPaq) for mounting it under or next to a desk, or high on a cubicle wall to provide better reception.

I recently used the device at several stops along an (ongoing) 6,000-plus mile road trip around the U.S., and found it an indispensable jack of all (networking) trades, with only a touch of "master of none." It neatly replaces everything in the Frankenmodem I assembled a few years ago and have relied on for temporary wireless-by-modem since. It just took a few more years for such a device to appear than I expected it to.

My testbed laptops: a Toshiba Satellite with a 1GHz Celeron chip (saddled with Windows XP), and a 500MHz iBook running Ubuntu Linux 5.0.4.The iBook wireless connection is an internal Airport card (Ubuntu supports the original Airport, though not yet the Airport Extreme), and the Toshiba is getting its wireless access from a USB dongle, a Netgear MA111. (And though the nature of the device means it shouldn't much matter, it's nice to see that Linux support is mentioned explicitly on the package.) In both cases, I used a recent build of Firefox to reach the device's admin page, and (except for better reception in the iBook) there is no difference in behavior, since the WiFlyer requires no client-side software.

Set-up is simple: plug the device in (there's no power switch) and connect it to either an active phone line or an ethernet cable leading to active Internet service. Upon starting a browser and entering the WiFlyer's default IP address (192.168.7.77), the user finds a configuration screen. By default, the WiFlyer is set up for dialup use, and here's one of the best features: stored in memory, the box has local access numbers for "most" major ISPs; a partial list includes Earthlink (the one I use), SBC/Yahoo, MSN, ATT Worldnet and NetZero. The handy thing about ISPs sharing modem pools is that chances are good any ISP with a national presence is reachable through the WiFlyer's list. Just select your location and ISP, supply your username and password, and the WiFlyer dials out. (A small dial on the side controls the modem's volume; it's reassuring to hear those banshees wail sometimes.) This feature worked flawlessly for me from several places around the country; I chose Earthlink's numbers from various locations, and got through without incident. Since Ubuntu Linux can't yet control the modem in my iBook, it's nice to have an external modem like this.

If you can scrounge an ethernet cable with active service upstream to the Internet, though, things are even easier (at least if you are happy with DHCP -- otherwise you'll have to punch in the right numbers in the configuration page). After clicking a button on the config page to switch to broadband, a firmware swap takes place (it requires around a minute; Always On says this was a necessary compromise in the cost of the device), and Shazam! -- miniature broadband wireless router. It seems to take the WiFlyer 60-90 seconds to establish the connection, though; this takes more patience than do my other wireless routers. If you're borrowing a friend's cable-modem line between the cable modem and his PC, connect the other ethernet port to the computer, so everyone's happy.

I didn't use the built-in security features (too far from interested eavesdroppers), but the WiFlyer includes the usual semi-secure means of securing a wireless network from the base-station end; 40/64 bit and 128-bit WEP and MAC address authentication.

Limitations

The WiFlyer isn't perfect; it has a few drawbacks to take note of, and they could be deal-killers if you need what it doesn't offer.

Most importantly, the range of the WiFlyer is limited; that's what I expected, since it has no external antenna, but the working range is even shorter than I anticipated, and my reception was spotty outside anything more than 20 feet from the box, even with a perfect line of sight. (This is partly to blame on my wireless dongle, but not entirely -- with both the WiFlyer and a common Netgear 802.11b base station active in the same house, I received a much stronger signal from the Netgear even with the WiFlyer within three feet of my 802.11 USB key, while the Netgear was more than 30 feet away and blocked by two thick plaster walls.) That means that an out-of-the-box WiFlyer won't let me browse the web over waffles across the street from a motel. The only way I could get a connection which my Toshiba would call "excellent" was to lay the USB wireless dongle within a foot or two of the WiFlyer. Within a hotel room or small office, the reception is perfectly adequate, though, and if you choose to view the glass as half-full, no wireless moocher is likely to download naughty pictures (or upload naughty email) over your connection.

However, the designers have at least deflected my low opinion of the built-in antenna by including a jack for an MCX antenna, which -- thanks to the proliferation of wireless generally -- are widely available and cheap. The local computer superstore in El Paso (my location at the moment) has a vide variety of these available, starting around $40. So for a permanent installation, the range ought not be a huge concern, but don't expect to cover the footprint of a music festival or even much of a multi-room office without an antenna.

Another limitation is that the DHCP server supports only 5 users at a time. For situations where the WiFlyer is likely to be used, it doesn't seem worth carping too much about this low number -- sharing dialup with more than 5 users seems like a stretch anyhow. But as an emergency backup DHCP server (something it seems perfect for, though clearly not the intended application), this limits its utility. It can't take too much more expensive a chip to bump that number a bit higher. As a wireless Swiss Army Knife, it would also be handy if the WiFlyer featured a bridging mode, so it could be used to extend service from the edge of an existing hotspot. Since it's roughly the size of some USB wireless devices anyhow, this would make it a useful tool to receive as well as provide wireless access.

If you're used to 802.11g, another disappointment: the WiFlyer is 802.11b only. Since even 802.11b vastly outstrips the carrying capacity of American broadband connections generally, the distinction is probably less important than the makers of 802.11g equipment would have you believe; but be warned, the WiFlyer isn't built to facilitate ultra-high-speed intranetwork data transfers.

The Upshot

The only major disappointment I had with the WiFlyer is the short range; that factor aside, it's been a lifesaver. Now if the makers designed in a duck antenna for greater range, added a bridging mode, and removed the slight hassle of a firmware swap to move between broadband and dialup, it would be even snazzier. Hopefully the next generation WiFlyer will add some of those things, but don't get me wrong: if you travel where modem access is your link to the Internet, or you ever need to share a broadband connection temporarily, the WiFlyer is well worth buying and keeping in your hit-the-road bag.

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Dialup Redeemed: The WiFlyer Modem+Hotspot

Comments Filter:
  • Back to the Future? (Score:3, Informative)

    by bigwavejas ( 678602 ) * on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:38AM (#13135746) Journal
    I can't help but feel this isn't the solution people need. Rather, more cities should take the stand Philadelphia has by attempting to provide WiFi for the entire city http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20040901-4149 .html [arstechnica.com]

    Unfortunately, in lieu of Florida recently prosecuting a man for unauthorized WiFi access http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/07/07/wi.fi.theft.ap/ [cnn.com] until we find an alternative - this product is necessary.

    sorry bout the subject, had to jump at the opportunity to tag one of my fav movies :)

    • by slaker ( 53818 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:45AM (#13135836)
      I disagree. I still get paid from time to time to set up connection sharing for a dialup connection.
      Broadband is not everywhere.
    • by dfn5 ( 524972 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:46AM (#13135856) Journal
      Unfortunately, in lieu of Florida recently prosecuting a man for unauthorized WiFi access
      That's why I'm glad I live in the Live Free or Die state where failure to secure one's access point is an affirmative defense for the would-be trespasser.

      • Interesting place. I suppose this extends, ie failure to wear bullet proof clothing would be an affirmative defence for somebody that shot you? Stands to reason, if you dont put on a bullet proof vest, you dont care if somebody shoots you. It's about as obvious as 'failure to secure an access point', and falls in the same line of reason.
      • Which is New Hampshire for non-americans. Also, isn't there a risk of that becoming "Live free and die"?
    • Not the point (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @12:01PM (#13136029)
      I can't help but feel this isn't the solution people need. Rather, more cities should take the stand Philadelphia has by attempting to provide WiFi for the entire city http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20040901-4149 [arstechnica.com] .html

      That completely misses the point. Currently city-wide WiFi *doesn't* exist in many places, so the point is what you do in the meantime? Also note the use for a traveller - in a hotel, placing a local call to an AOL number (those free discs are good for something) is probably free, while the place might not have WiFi.

      • That completely misses the point. Currently city-wide WiFi *doesn't* exist in many places, so the point is what you do in the meantime?

        Mr Underbridge, I clearly stated, "until we find an alternative - this product is necessary."

        Good day sir.

        • I see no point to this product as there are allot of solutions available which are much cheaper. I can not see any advantage to a traveller to have a wireless access in a motel room. Most of us will do their work at a desk where the phone jack will be close to anyway. One could buy a long cord to get to anywhere else in the room. If there happen to be two people in the same room who need access then a crossover cable connected to each computer with one using a proxy for it's access would work at a lot l
          • Long cord to the wall. An ethernet cable between two laptops. And it all goes crashing to the ground the first time someone has to get up to go to the bathroom and trips over one of those cords. Hotel rooms are often very inconvenient for where the phone jack might be located, this makes a LOT of sense. If I travelled more and had to use hotels that didn't have ethernet (or wireless) access, I'd certainly consider buying one of these things. I almost bought one of the old Airport base stations several

            • Long cord to the wall. An ethernet cable between two laptops. And it all goes crashing to the ground the first time someone has to get up to go to the bathroom and trips over one of those cords.
              Two people in a hotel room and your primary concern is about tripping over cables. Sir, I salute you for your geekiness.
          • Ok, you see no point, that's fine. Me, I've been looking for one of these for a while now. A lot of my travel, especially vacation travel, is to places without wireless or ethernet access, for example when we've rented a house with some other families for vacation. In those cases we have several people wanting access, and this type of unit is ideal. In the past I've brought my Airport along, but a less bulky device would be good.
    • "Great Scott!" Speaking of Back to the Future, did you happen to see Michael J Fox deliver an Amazon.com order personally. Delivered a copy of his autobiography, Lucky Man, to a family on Martha's Vineyard. Video Link [amazon.com]
  • by gknac ( 799381 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:42AM (#13135799)
    The AirPort has done this for years, share the dialup over wireless. WOW huge revolution here. There were probably even products before AirPort. Delete this article, its all been done before, and at a lower price with more features/function.
  • Apple Airport (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Gotung ( 571984 )
    Apple's Airport has had this functionality for a looooong time. I actually used it a couple years ago while on vacation.
    • Yes, yes, yes. Mod Gotung up 'cause he's absolutely right.

      Apple's cross-platform compatible AirPort base station has been doing this since it's first version, quite a few years ago, I believe.

      This new device is a lot cheaper, though. Apple's support's AOL... does this one?

      --Richard
      • I would NOT consider support for AOl's implementation of non-standard protocols to be a plus. Nor would I consider it to be a good thing to continue to support AOl's overpriced dialup solution.

        Oh, and of course Apple's solution is bigger. It's older. Your sexy little laptop used to be a lot bigger too, back when the concept was developed.
      • "Apple's cross-platform compatible AirPort base station..."

        Last time I checked, AirPort Extreme base stations required OS X to adminster--however, until you posted this and I checked Apple's site again--it doesn't seem to say that anymore. (It does say that WPA requires Panther or later ... but I don't know if that assumes Windows--oh, and, are they just ignoring Linux? I'm sure it works with it--is OK no matter what.)

        Since I accidentally blew up* my last wireless router (a DI-524 from D-Link), the AirP

  • why not go for http://www.junxionbox.com/ [junxionbox.com] directly?
  • okay (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:44AM (#13135824)
    yeah I have a wireless access point that converts into smoke signals

    wtf. really.
  • ...it's functionally identical to the first 802.11b access point most of us ever saw: The original Apple Airport.

    Nothing for you to see here.
  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:46AM (#13135844) Homepage Journal
    I'm on a reasonable quality ISP landlines lots of ethernet connecting whole neighborhood, a hub or switch every 2-3 houses apart, plus a gateway on some kind of big pipe. There's one serious problem with this approach though - better buy network cards in bulk, after each major storm most of network infrastructure that was plugged in needs to be replaced. Now what before the ISP brings in replacement hubs and switches? Recently I found myself in this situation, needing access really urgently. So I just whipped out my cell phone, the data cable (self-made), a bit of configuring and I'm online in no time. Of course downloading movies or surfing graphically heavy pages is out of question with /byte payment, but it's perfectly enough for IM, email, IRC and some lightweight webbrowsing.
    • It's even better when you've got Bluetooth, because there no need for the self-made data cable. Powerbook + Sony/Erricson T637 + GPRS = wireless backup internet connection!
  • Brilliant! (Score:5, Funny)

    by CynicalGuy ( 866115 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:46AM (#13135853)
    The WiFlyer is a brilliant device,

    No, Guiness in a bottle is a brilliant device. This thing is just a wifi access point and a modem.
  • I think this is a great addition to the current lineup of equipment out there. I don't know if you've ever tried to put together a wireless LAN with a desktop computer that's connected to the internet via dialup instead of broadband, but it's a PITA. As far as Linksys is concerned, it CANNOT be done. I did every trick I could think, flipped every configuration flag I could find, tried to fool the thing into thinking there was a broadband connection.

    As far as I can tell, before this, there is no way to s
    • Can't you just turn off DHCP, and share the connection from a PC? You might have to change the router's IP address also, if the PC demands to have 192.168.0.1.
      • As far as I could tell, with the model we were dealing with there was no way to turn off DHCP or the routing features and make it just a hub. The laptop with a wireless card could ping the router but not the desktop, and the desktop with an ethernet connection to the hub could ping the router but not the laptop. The routing was all hosed up, and no apparent way to fix it. I did change the router's IP address.
    • Can't you just share your dialup connection to the Ethernet port, and plug the wireless router's WAN port into the Ethernet port? You might need a crossover cable if it isn't a Mac. If you turn off DHCP in the router, you should also just be able to connect the ethernet port to one of the LAN ports on the router (leaving the WAN port disconnected) - then something connecting wirelessly will use DHCP from the computer, not the router. Either should work, although the second is much better if you want to c

    • I was doing this five years ago with an ancient SMC wireless access point and a dialup modem. I can't believe this is "news" for any nerd.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 )
    WTF is this obvious advertisement doing on the front page?

    -Eric

  • dialup is a useful adjunct to even the spiffiest broadband access. And sometimes, it's the only access available.

    I know this is a little off-topic, but I just had to respond to this statement.

    It's nice to see I'm not the only one who believes this. I wish Comcast did. They don't provide dial-up backup so, when I'm out of town, I have to find a hotel that provides their own access. It's the only thing I don't like about my cable modem.
    • Re:Comcast (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mr2001 ( 90979 )
      When my Comcast connection is unavailable, I just use my cell phone. A $10 data cable lets me get online at 60-100 kbps, which is better than dialup, and it just uses regular minutes on my Verizon plan (so it's free after 9 PM or on weekends).
  • Ihat an article??? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Holi ( 250190 )
    It reads like a damn press release. How low is /. going to stoop. I mean if this were a newspaper the top of the page would say ADVERTISEMENT.

    And as others have probably said the Apple Airport has had this functionality since it's inception ( I can't make any claims about the later versions as all I have is my silver UFO) and I have used it many times in the past. So while yes this can be a useful function, it is not something new.

    Way to go Timothy, I hope they paid you well.
  • Okay (Score:3, Funny)

    by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) <michaelmtripp@gm ... om minus painter> on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:50AM (#13135904) Homepage
    but where is my 802.11b convertor for Carrier Pigeon IP? I'm tired of having to sit next to the window for these birds, I want to sit on the other side of the room!
  • Wow... (Score:5, Funny)

    by ChrisF79 ( 829953 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:51AM (#13135909) Homepage
    Using this device is like putting 18" chrome rims on a 1988 Ford Escort.
  • Price Comparison (Score:4, Informative)

    by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) <michaelmtripp@gm ... om minus painter> on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:54AM (#13135947) Homepage
    Wiflyer: $150
    20ft phone cord: $5

    Yeah, I think I can do without spending 30 times as much.

  • Why is this necessary, when a $2 20 foot cord does the exact same thing? If you need to share Wifi, the modemed Mac/PC can act as a basestation.

    jfs

    • I think you missed the point.

      He's running Ubuntu on his iBook, which does not support the internal modem.

      Why he's running Ubuntu instead of the perfectly functioning MacOSX, is perhaps the subject of another article.
  • If I understand this correctly, then this targets those that want to share dial-up access, but are unwilling or unable to get broadband. Afterall, a wireless router can be obtained for roughly $60.

    I guess I don't understand the target market here. It is just people that don't have a modem, but would rather buy an access point, then a modem?
  • by Omega1045 ( 584264 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:57AM (#13135978)
    I thought this would be a great solution for a friend with dial-up that wants to use his laptop all over the house the way I do with my wireless. However, with 20' line of site connectivity, this will not do.

    As far as a business traveller, I can tell you that I packed a 50' chunk of cat5 RJ45 and a 100' chunk of cat 3 (phone cable is cat 3, right?) RJ11 for some time in my computer pack. Neither took up a lot of room. Neither was very expensive, and both work great to this day.

    This thing is going to have to do a hellavalot better than 20' to be of any value to me, and I imagine, a lot of other travelling (or stationary) geeks.

    • As far as a business traveller, I can tell you that I packed a 50' chunk of cat5 RJ45 and a 100' chunk of cat 3 (phone cable is cat 3, right?) RJ11 for some time in my computer pack.

      I'm a business traveller as well. I have cat5 cable with me at all times. One thing though - couldn't you just get a couple of plug converters for each end of the cat5 cable, so you don't have to carry both types of cables with you?

  • The WiFlyer is a brilliant device,

    Unless it has an RS-232 port, then I am not impressed.


    Well, actually, I'm not. I just don't trust devices without RS-232 ports...
    • I'm not sure if you're being serious, but the older B-series SMC routers (7004AWBR and similar) had RS-232 ports. During a cable-modem outage I just plugged in an external modem, made a couple setup changes, and had my whole house "sucking Internet through a straw" while the cable company was sorting things out.

      As others have indicated, I'm not sure why the WiFlyer is regarded as a big deal. The SMC hub + an external modem could do the same thing, plus had a built-in 4 port hub, lpd print server, and m

      • My parents own one of those same SMCs. I was trying to transition them away from dialup by hooking the modem up to the serial port so that they'd at least no longer have to manually dial up anymore (plus there's the shared printer port).

        Alas, I tried a bunch of different modems and never got one to actually dial with the thing. It just never worked. In the end I finally just convinced them to try a cable modem for a few months and they were instantly sold on the speed with which they could fetch their mail
      • How much does a (new) router that can connect using a modem cost? Price of router + modem + access point is probably going to be more than this device (though with a real access point, you'd get much better wireless performance than the WiFlyer). It also won't be very portable, and you'll need three wall warts to support it!

  • Why not just pair your cell phone with your laptop over bluetooth and use GPRS if you're satisfied with dialup speeds? It might even be faster.
    • Why not just pair your cell phone with your laptop over bluetooth and use GPRS if you're satisfied with dialup speeds?

      Because GPRS is not available in many areas where I want internet access - including my vacation/retirement house, which is what I bought the darned cellphone and service FOR in the first place.

      (Heck: The network is trying to push everybody to switch from TDMA to GSM yet they STILL won't convert the only cell covering that site - and I can't switch carrieres because I'd just end up roami
  • by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @12:00PM (#13136019) Homepage
    And here's why:

    42.1 percent of American households now own a computer. See www.natat.org/ncsc/Pubs/Getting%20Online/Chapter_1 .htm

    In 2003 about 13 percent of American households are actually using broadband. See www.pcworld.com/howto/article/0,aid,107834,00.asp The stats are two years old, but broadband adoption isn't happening that quickly. Even if you double broadband to 26%, you have 74% still using dial-up.

    The dial-up users may want to go wireless at some point and this is the American way to do it. Plug it into the wall, personalize it and leave it alone.

    If I'm working for the company marketing this thing, I'd be on the phone with every dial-up ISP in the world. It's a no-brainer for the dial-up ISP.

    Like it or not, dial-up (in the U.S. anyway) is like the dot-matrix printer and more recently the floppy disk. It's going to hang around for a long time. Not sexy, but useful and cheap.
    • Good point with the statistics, but do you have any clue how many old Apple IIx and other old non-connected computers there are out there? If they are counted, that could cause a pretty big difference between the number of people with computers, and the number of people with internet access.
    • Your math is fuzzy... Assuming we agree that 26% of american households are using broadband, that doesn't mean the remaining 74% have dial-up. After all, only 42.1% have a computer in the first place. Subtract that from the 74% and you end up with closer to 32%. Even that number is likely high, since not everyone who owns a computer has an internet connection.

      While still a lot of people, it's by no means 3/4 of the country.
      • I just went through a list of everyone I know who owns a computer.

        Parents, Grandparents, brother, sister, aunt/uncle, cousin, cousin, friends from highschool (x5), 75 year old librarian, neighbor.

        Every last one of them has internet access as well. 100%.

        I've thought this over for about 5 minutes, so it *IS* possible I'm missing someone I know who has a computer but no internet access, but I honestly can't think of any. Considering that computers come with 3-6 months of free AOL/Earthlink nowadays, I rea
    • 42.1 percent of American households now own a computer...
      In 2003 about 13 percent of American households are actually using broadband...
      Even if you double broadband to 26%, you have 74% still using dial-up.


      Do you mean 13% of households are using broadband, or 13% of household computer owners are using braodband... because if only 42% of households have a computer, I'm pretty sure that 74% of households aren't using dial-up. So if it's 13% of total households using broadband (as your link states), that
    • I admit I banged the stats out quickly, so let me try again with a little more clarity.
      1. I think it's reasonable to assume 42% of American households have computers.
      2. Of the 42%, I think it's reasonable to assume somewhere between 13% and 26% are broadband users.
      3. Of the remaining 42% of households with computers and no broadband, I'd guess 90% are using dial-up. I'm leaving 10% of the no broadband users with no internet connection at all.

      To put it in very simple number terms:
      If there were only 100 am
  • I think this is just something Timothy is interested in: http://www.monkey.org/~timothy/dialup.html [monkey.org].
  • Apple's original airport has done this for what, 6-7 years? In fact, when my sister in law was looking for a wireless access point, she picked up a graphite base station from eBay for $56. Works fine with her Dell laptop.
  • Is it just me, or was that first paragraph darn near incomprehensible? Oh well, what else would you expect from timothy (except maybe to see this ad again tomorrow)?
  • by Andr0s ( 824479 ) <dunkelzahn@rocketmail.com> on Friday July 22, 2005 @12:22PM (#13136226)
    OK. This is getting a bit annoying, so I'll raise the question...

    Reading comments above, I can't help but notice a significant number of 'paid advert' comments; why is it that, every time someone gives a thorough overview of a device, piece of software or book, the pitchfork-and-torch mob forms to accuse the author of advertising? That kind of reaction most likely actively discourages people from providing good, well-written reviews - and when those are gone, what you're left with is really not worth reading.

    As for the item itself, being an IT/Tech Support professional, I must say I do see a lot of usefulness in the device in some specific situations, although it might not have a significant presence in most everyday enviroments. Main issues I see are that hybrid technology is obviously sacrificing performance for sake of flexibility, and things such as reduced WiFi range/signal quality pretty much tend to reduce usefulness to the point of making it not worth using in the eye of average user.
    • "why is it that, every time someone gives a thorough overview of a device, piece of software or book, the pitchfork-and-torch mob forms to accuse the author of advertising"

      Because stealth advertising happens so often. Especially on tech sites, people are getting paid to deliver "content" on various products. This actually happens a lot in print media too, its just not as easy to provide feedback about the fact in that medium.
  • You didn't like Apple's Airport because of its size, even though it *comes* with a wall-mount bracket so you can mount it "high on a cubicle wall," something you find lacking in this device. It also has the ability to connect an external antenna for better range, has no cheap-ass 5 DHCP address limit (btw how LAME), and supports WPA. It also has a super-neat dialin feature using the modem so you can connect back into your network remotely if you did end up some place with broadband and the airport took a mo
  • Many hotels provide broadband access now (via ethernet in your room, and often WiFi in the lobby). I used to balk at the price to use it, as I'm only checking my emails. But at the cost they charge for outgoing local phone calls, buying a night's worth of broadband is often cheaper than using your modem for 5 minutes.
    • I've used an AT&T calling card (Sam's Club, 3.47 cents/minute) - best I could do was 28K, which is actually pretty amazing considering how it gets routed. A lot of hotels allow free local calls, but then you need to be using a national ISP, and have a local access number, for that to help. In my case, I was dialing up from Hawaii to my local ISP.

  • In my notebook I couldn't make the internal modem work (Toshiba M35X S149 [linuxquestions.org], Ubuntu 5.04). But the built-in WiFi card works out of the box with Ubuntu. So I think I could buy this to use my modem when traveling to a place without wireless internet? Or would be better to buy a pcmcia card modem? I think this could be best since I know that my wifi works, but I don't know about pcmcia modems and linux compatibility.
  • For $150 it can't even use 2 phone lines? Maybe this is great for that small segment of travelers who can't use a phone cord, but for those of us who are really *living* with only POTS lines this device is remarkably limited.

    I could buy a used WebRamp off Ebay, and a brand new wireless router at CostCo, for less than $100 and have every PC in the house able to surf at 100k, and take phone calls dynamically! Now if this device did v.92 functions (Call Waiting stuff) reliably AND managed 2 lines it might b
    • There are lots of old hand-me-down laptops with wireless. A second phone line costs real money. You'd also need an ISP that allows you to connect more than once, plus if you don't have an unlimited account, you're using your minutes at twice the rate. For most people, it isn't worth it (makes more sense to just go with broadband at that point). Besides, it doesn't do you any good for the hotel room, which is the primary thing this thing seems to be aimed at.

      • You make many good points.

        But this thing costs $150!!!

        If you are in the hand-me-down laptop market and the thought of a 2nd phone line is too much, then you are seriously eyeing the 50 foot phone cord from the dollar store anyway. I know people exactly like this and I helped them get a WebRamp for $25. They were much happier. $150 would not even have entered the discussion -- they'd have gone back to the 50 foot cord first.

        A 2nd hand-me-down computer of any kind (with a modem) and a wi-fi card can be
  • WTF, is it suddenly 1999 [wikipedia.org] again?
  • While the 20-foot range that the reviewer experienced is more than a little short of the claimed 300 feet, this review doesn't provide any details on what looks like another pretty bogus claim on the product's Web page: "Quick-connect button eliminates time waiting for dialup connection."

    There's a limit to how fast you can dial, and I don't see how any kind of button could reduce the time you spend waiting for the modems to sync.

  • Slashdot.org

    ADS FOR GEEKS
    SHIT THAT DOESN'T MATTER

    This article was a paid advertisement, no question in my mind. I think slashdot is sliding quicker then the USA's reputation. Way to go Taco, way to run you brain child into the fucking ground.

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