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 Arescom EZ Rider Pro Internet Access Router

 Author: Tim Higgins
 Review Date: 6/2/2000



Reviewed: Arescom EZ Rider Pro Cable / DSL Internet Access Router

Pros: - Has built-in 56K modem with "auto-rollover" capability.
- Can forward port ranges.
 
Cons: - Too slow for broadband.
- Insecure default WAN settings.
 
 

The Stats

Product Name Arescom EZ Rider Pro Cable / DSL Internet Access Router (EZ Rider Pro)
WAN Interface

One 10baseT RJ45 jack

LAN Interface

Three auto sensing 10/100baseT RJ45 jacks
plus one shared Uplink RJ45 jack

Size (WxDxH)

approximately 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches

Administration

- via web browser, Win95,98, NT4 client, or Telnet

- upgrade via Windows utility or built-in TFTP or FTP client 
[requires local FTP or TFTP server, see review]

Maximum
Num. of Clients

253

Throughput

0.8 to 1.2Mbps (estimated)  [See Review]

DHCP Server

Yes

DHCP Client
(on WAN port)

Yes

VPN Client Support

Yes (PPTP only)

VPN Server Support

No

PPPoE Support

No. Must request Beta firmware.

Firewall bypass

- Cannot place one computer completely outside firewall.
- Can open up to 64 single ports in firewall.
- Can "auto-forward" up to 64 sets of TCP or UDP port ranges through firewall.

Access control

- Can control access via filter function by IP and TCP, UDP, ICMP port.

Routing

RIP 1 & 2

Price
(List / Street)

$309 (Manf direct price only)


Basics
The front of the unit contains all indicators including:
  • Power
  • Diag
  • 56K Carrier Detect
  • 56K Tx/Rx
  • WAN Link/Tx
  • WAN Rx
  • Three LAN Link/Tx (one for each port)
  • Three LAN 100/Rx (one for each port
  • Collision

The rear of the box contains all connectors, including:

  • 1  RJ45 for the WAN, 
  • 3  LAN and 1 shared uplink, RJ45  
  • 1  DB9 female serial console port
  • 2  RJ11 for the 56K modem connection
  • Power

There's also a Link/Std switch for the WAN port so that you can connect to whatever you need to without a crossover cable.  Note that there isn't a hardware reset/reboot button, but this function is provided in the software admin interfaces.

The router comes with a Get Started User's Guide, 10 foot UTP cable, RJ11 phone cable and Software CD.  The CD contains the Windows-only EZ Rider manager installer, Apps notes, datasheets, and PDF copies for the Get Started and more complete Software User's guides (which you can also download from this page).  Arescom also throws in demo versions of PC Anywhere, Little Brother, and other assorted goodies.

A model (the EZ Rider) without the built-in modem and rollover capability is available for $229 (manufacturer's direct price).  The EZ Riders can be purchased from the Arescom Web site, Fry's, and a network of VARs.


The Setup

The EZ Rider Pro can be set up a number of ways.   If you have a Windows machine on your network, you can use the EZ Rider Manager setup application, but it doesn't give access to all the features that the web-browser interface does.  The most complete feature access is through the command line interface, which is available via Telnet through the LAN, WAN, or serial Console ports.  I used the web-browser for my setup.

The router powers up with the LAN DHCP server enabled, which allowed me to easily connect to the built-in admin webserver at 192.168.1.1, just by setting my computer's TCP/IP properties to obtain an IP address automatically (or from a DHCP server).  However, when I tried to access the web, I couldn't, so had to go hunting for the proper settings.

The browser admin interface is fairly extensive, but could be better organized.  It also seemed oddly focused on dialup settings for a cable/DSL router.  Take a look at the screen shots below for some examples (click on them to open another window with a larger view).

IP Setting Screen  DHCP screen

The category names are a little confusing and some common and useful information that you may need is missing, such as your ISP's DNS server information when you have the WAN port set as a DHCP client, and the MAC address of the WAN port (which many MediaOne/RoadRunner users will need to get the router installed).  Some information / features are available only through the command-line interface, such as the ability to clone the MAC address ( set interface e[thernet] 1 mac >) or set a syslog server (set system syslog).

The EZ Rider Pro also had some interesting defaults.  NAT routing was disabled and the WAN port was not set to be a DHCP client, the opposite of what many users need to just plug in the router and go.   Changing the defaults on these two items would probably prevent a few tech support calls!

The firmware upgrade method is worth mentioning.  TFTP and FTP clients are built into the web-browser interface, but you'll need to be running an FTP or TFTP server on some machine on your network in order to use this upgrade method.  I re-flashed the firmware as part of my testing but used the EZ Rider Manager's firmware upgrade feature, since I didn't have any servers handy.


Security risk!

The EZ Rider Pro's default setup could place unsuspecting users at risk for getting their LAN computers cracked into.

Security warning! Please follow the User Guide's instructions and change the router pages' password during your initial setup. The admin features of the router are accessible from the WAN side of the router by default via both Port 80 (HTTP Web Browser) and Port 23 (Telnet). 

If you don't change the admin password to a strong password, you may find uninvited "guests" in your LAN's computers.

Note that the EZ Rider does not expose the NetBIOS ports or other common ports.  But by having the admin ports open to the WAN, and with no instructions on how to close the ports, Arescom is exposing EZ Rider customers to unnecessary risk of LAN intrusion, or worse!

 
Features

The feature that most interested me in the EZ Rider Pro was the integrated 56K modem and auto-rollover to a dialup connection. This feature did work, taking about a 60-90 seconds from the time I unplugged the WAN connection and hit my Browser "Load" button, to when the router started to dial.  When I plugged the WAN connection back in, the EZ Rider Pro dropped the dialup connection about 30 seconds later.  The only control you have over this process is whether it's enabled or not.

The router's port mapping and forwarding abilities are better than the 10 or 12 single ports that most of the routers in this class provide.  You can forward up to 64 individual ports and 64 more port ranges through the EZ Rider Pro's firewall.   You can also set the router to log to a syslog client on your network.  (See this page if you need a Windows syslog client.)


Throughput

Here's the bad news.  The general feeling of this router was sluggish and unresponsive.  It seemed like it had to think about any data request, with pauses of 5-10 seconds between a browser click and a page load start, for example.

I wasn't able to complete my usual throughput test on the router.  It would start the download (after the usual pause) then hang at some point before the download was even half way done.  From the information in the Windows file transfer box, I estimate the speed of the router to be somwhere around 1Mbps, give or take 0.2Mbps or so.

 

Limitations

The EZ Rider Pro's "don't have"s are typical for this class of router:

  • No content filtering.

  • No time-based access control

  • No support for the RoadRunner TAS login protocol

  • No IPSec Client passthru support

Note that the router does not have PPPoE capability, but you can contact Arescom for Beta firmware that adds this capability.

Summary

In a word, disappointing.   Even after numerous email exchanges with helpful Arescom Tech support people, I was just not able to get satisfactory performance from this product.

Given the slow performance, relatively limited availability,  higher price, and insecure default setup of the EZ Rider Pro, there are better choices.


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