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 2Wire HomePortal 100W

Page 1 

 Author: Tim Higgins
 Review Date: 4/5/2001


Model: HomePortal 100 W
Pros:

- Very very fast!
- Simplifies the Home Networking experience, especially for mixed media networks
- Supports Ethernet, USB, HomePNA 2.0, and 802.11b wireless LAN ports

 
Cons:

- Big and non stackable
- LAN USB port only for Win98,ME,2000
- 15% throughput hit with WEP enabled

 

Review Updates

None yet.


The Stats

Check this page for a summary of the Home Portal 100W's routing specs and this page for its wireless capabilities.

 

 

The Basics

 
Indicators
  • Power

  • Broadband Link

  • Home Network

  • Link and Activity LEDs built into rear panel Ethernet connectors

Connectors
  • One RJ45 10 BaseT WAN

  • One RJ45 10BaseT LAN

  • One USB Type B (square) LAN

  • Two USB Type A (rectangular) for "peripherals" 

  • Power

  • One RJ11 HomePNA 2.0

Comes with
  • CD with installation software

  • CD with documentation library

  • printed Quick Start Guide poster

  • one normal UTP cable

  • two RJ11 phone cables

  • one USB A to B cable

  • modular phone jack Y adapter

  • 100-240V Power supply

Other 
  • NO Hardware Reset switch

  • NO Uplink or Normal / Crossover switch for LAN Ports, but LAN Ethernet port is auto-MDI/MDI-X sensing (see this page for more info).

 

Busy, Busy!

2Wire has been pretty busy since we last looked at them!  They've expanded their distribution, and inked a deal with Earthlink. and introduced a slew of new products, all based on their core Home Portal platform.

This review will cover the Home Portal 100W, which adds an 802.11b wireless Access Point to the Ethernet, USB, and HomePNA 2.0 networking options already handled.  It's a pretty nifty product, so read on to see if you should take the plunge...

 

What's new

I won't be going into detail on the 100W's basics, since you can get most of that from my original HP100 review.  Some things have changed since last December, though, so let me give you a rundown:

  • Installation - The Installation Wizard no longer changes your home page or makes you register, but it does change your network login to MS Networking, and it sets the Windows Workgroup name to Home.  Not a problem if you're setting up a network from scratch, but if you're adding a 100W to an existing network, you could scratch your head for awhile, since the Installation Wizard doesn't tell you about these settings.

    There's still a Key Code required, but since 2Wire is now selling products through retailers instead of exclusively factory-direct, the set up may not be as automatic as it used to be.

I like it! By the way, when connecting Ethernet devices to the LAN port, no matter whether you use a normal UTP or crossover cable, or whatever kind of port you connect to, the 100W will figure it out and connect you up!

  • HP Monitor - The Installation Wizard still adds this to your system, but you don't really need it, since you can do just about everything that it does through the browser interface, or via regular Windows networking Control Panels.  One thing the Monitor does give you is the "Change Mobile Computer" location feature. This lets you store two network profiles for a computer, making it easier to move a laptop between your 2Wire and work networks, for example.

  • Browser Interface - Still reached by typing http://172.16.0.1/  (or http://home/  or http://homeportal/) into your browser.  But you'll find the Store, Entertainment, and Home tabs gone... no loss, in my opinion.

Home Portal Monitor Network screen

But what remains is much improved.  The Network Tab now keeps accurate track of network clients and even refreshes the browser window when clients are moved from one type of network interface to another or added or removed.  You now can also password protect the parts of the Admin interface where you can make changes.  The browser bugs that I saw the last time 'round look like they're gone, too!

  • VPN - All Home Portals now support both PPTP and IPsec client passthrough when loaded with the latest firmware.  They can support multiple PPTP and IPsec sessions to multiple servers simultaneously!  Access to PPTP or IPsec servers on the LAN is presently not supported.

NOTE: 2Wire says they can support a pass through session to only one Cisco VPN client at a time.  That session can run simultaneously with other types of VPN sessions, however.

 

Management & Diagnostics Console (MDC) Features

Secret no more, it's even referred to in Chapter 7 of the User Manual!  2Wire has added a lot of the features that I noted as missing in the last review, so let's take a look:

  • Date & Time - Shortly after the 100W boots up, it grabs the time from a NNTP server and sets a real time clock.  Now you can clearly see when logged events take place. If you'd rather set the time yourself, there's a screen that lets you do it, as well as set time zone, NNTP servers, and polling interval.

  • SNMP Management - Can be enabled and Read and Write community strings can be set.  But there's no documentation on what's available via SNMP and no MIB file provided, either.

  • Firewall Port control - The Firewall Configuration screen gives you the ability to enable or disable Inbound or Outbound Internet access for a fixed set of services. The settings apply to all LAN clients, and although the attempts to access blocked services are logged to the Security log, there's no indication on a user's web browser, for example, that HTTP access is being blocked.  The browser just hangs.

 2Wire HP100W - Firewall Configuration screen

  • Logging - The System, Security, and Fault logs are all still present, but now you have the option of logging to a syslog server!  The Security log captured my TCP port scans (see below), but many home networkers may need help to decipher the logged info (see this site).  Everything I scanned was locked down tight, by the way...

2Wire HP100W - Security Log screen

  • Other Stuff - The Diagnostics screen gives you the option of Resetting the entire HP, just the Broadband Link, just the Wireless interface, or resetting to Factory Defaults.

Lots of new useful features, which by the way, can be added to existing 2Wire products just by doing a firmware upgrade!  Let's see what's still to be done...

  • Page 2

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