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 Sonicwall TELE2 Internet Security Appliance

 Author: Tim Higgins
 Review Date: 2/5/2001


Model: Tele2

Pros:

- Extremely fast!
- Excellent logging and alert features
- Very good Access controls, including Time
- Very good Content controls

 
Cons:

- No "DMZ"
- Expensive feature upgrades
- No built-in hub or switch

 


Updates

11/06/01 - TELE2 firmware upgraded to 6.2.0.0 for new VPN enhancments

5/2/01 New firmware release. Supports WAN MAC address change and more. Release notes here.


 

The Basics

Indicators
  • Power

  • Test

  • WAN: Link, 100, Activity

  • LAN: Link, 100, Activity

Connectors
  • One RJ45 auto sensing 10/100BaseT WAN

  • One RJ45 auto sensing 10/100BaseT LAN

  • Power

Comes with
  • printed Quickstart guide

  • printed User's guide

  • CD with PDF versions of manuals, utilities

  • 100-120VAC power supply

  • UTP Normal cable

  • UTP crossover cable

Other 
  • Hardware Reset switch


A great product made greater

You could tell from my earlier review of Sonicwall's SOHO that I really liked the product.  Although it pushed the limits of the "inexpensive" routers that we cover at PracticallyNetworked, I thought the higher price was worth it, given the rich feature set and excellent user interface.

Sonicwall's "2" product line provides essentially the same functionality as its now-discontinued line, but built on a new hardware platform (133Mhz RISC processor, 4MB Flash memory, 8MB RAM).  This new platform removes one of my main objections to the old product line, slow speed.  The new line clocks in with speeds faster than most of its less expensive competition, while providing an ICSA certified stateful packet inspection firewall (see the speed test results below).

The Tele2 is essentially a SOHO2, but with the normally priced $500 VPN option bundled, and only supporting 5 users vs. the SOHO2's 10.  It's intended for users such as branch offices or telecommuters who need to support multiple PPTP or IPsec connections to remote networks.  The Tele2 does this by functioning as a VPN endpoint.  This means that it forms the other end of a VPN tunnel with another IPsec gateway, so that LAN clients can use the VPN tunnel without having to run VPN client software.

 

Old vs. New

To save you some page flipping, here's a comparison of the negative points in my SOHO review, and its equivalent in the Tele2.  (This comparison is for features that are present in both models.)

SOHO review missing feature / complaint

Tele2 

DMZ: 
Also known as "default server" in some routers, this feature allows you to place one LAN computer completely outside the router firewall.

Still no DMZ unless you purchase a product with a dedicated DMZ port.

Port Range Forwarding:
You can set access rules on up to 128 single TCP, UDP, or ICMP ports (more on this later), but you can't forward port ranges and you won't find triggered port maps either.

Can forward 64 ports or port ranges.  No triggered map capability.

WAN address "loopback":
If you have LAN based servers that you set as Public servers, you'll have to reach them via their private LAN IP address from LAN side machines.

No Loopback.

10/100 switched LAN ports:
The 4 LAN ports are 10BaseT only and they are repeated, not switched.

Hub removed. One autosensing 10/100 BaseT LAN port.

Lots of rebooting:
The SOHO had to be rebooted with most any configuration change we made.

Rebooting has been greatly reduced.

No MAC address cloning

Same

No RR TAS login

Same

High price 

Speed doubled, 4 port hub removed, price stayed the same.

Tip: Note that the port range forwarding and reboot reduction can be achieved in the older Sonicwall products, by upgrading the firmware to the current version.

 

Very speedy!

The Tele2 sailed through our speed testing with flying colors, although not with the 10x performance improvement that they trumpet on their Web site.  The numbers please!

(Tests run with 5.1.1 firmware)

Test Description

Transfer Rate (Mbps)

[1Mbyte data size]

Response Time (msec)
[10 iterations 100byte data size]

UDP stream 
[10S@1Mbps]

(Actual throughput- Mbps)

(Lost data- %)

WAN-LAN

7.6

2 (avg.)
3 (max.)

0.734

0%

LAN-WAN

6.6

2 (avg.)
3 (max.)

0.727

0%

(Details of how we tested can be found here.) 

For easy reference, here are the results for the old platform based SOHO:

Test Description

Transfer Rate (Mbps)

[1Mbyte data size]

Response Time (msec)
[10 iterations 100byte data size]

UDP stream 
[10S@1Mbps]

(Actual throughput- Mbps)

(Lost data- %)

WAN-LAN

3.2

8 (avg.)

0.677Mbps

32%

LAN-WAN

3.5

8 (avg.)

0.160Mbps

84%

A definite improvement!  Even the UDP streaming tests improved, with the Lost Data percentage dropping to zero.  These results place the Tele2 among the fastest routers tested, and again, this performance includes an ICSA certified firewall in operation!  

Summary

Sonicwall has taken a good product line and made it even better by updating its hardware platform.  Owners of the older products can take advantage of the trade-in offer to swap their older Sonicwall for its "2" series equivalent.  You can even do a trade-in on certain competitor's products, too!

The Sonicwall line is not for bargain hunters, either for the product itself, or service after the purchase.  The SOHO Opinion board has registered a number of complaints about Sonicwall's service policies, which are clearly spelled out on their support page Free support is via email only with approximately 24 hour turnaround time.  You can purchase toll-free phone support on a per-incident basis for $75 per incident, or get a one year subscription for $145.  Not cheap, but considering the quality of the free support from some of the less expensive router companies, these prices may be a bargain, depending on your situation.

I still highly recommend the Sonicwall line for small business users, or anyone who needs a robust, full-featured hardware firewall.  But bring your wallet!


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 Opinion Summary:     43.8%   |   56.3%  |   out of 16 reviews  
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