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$139 direct price
As DSL providers increasingly turn to "self-installation"
kits to lower the cost of entry into a competitive market, USB modems
are becoming increasingly popular. If you have one of these units and
wish to add a hardware router, you only have one choice: the Draytek Vigor2200USB.
Fortunately, the Vigor is a well-designed unit featuring four 10/100
Base-T ports, NAT, IP packet filtering firewall, DMZ and VPN. The Vigor
2200USB is a solid performer in this new category.
Finally, a router available for USB-based WAN connections
Basic setup is quick and easy
Strong feature set
Advanced configuration is complex
Currently only available for use with a few modems
When ADSL service was finally made available in my area, I jumped at
the chance to order a self-install kit. To my surprise, when the box arrived,
it contained an Alcatel Speed Touch USB modem. Instead of installing a
network interface card (NIC) into my computer, I simply had to plug the
modem into a USB port. The simplicity of installation certainly makes
sense from the point of view of an ISP's support department, but I soon
discovered the downside. There was no way to connect a hardware router
to the USB-based
DSL modem for sharing an Internet connection with multiple computers
unless you go the software route with ICS or a product like WinProxy --
at least until now.
Taiwan-based Draytek makes the first router specifically designed for
USB DSL modems. Distributed by Best
Systems Direct for $139 in the US, the Vigor2200USB currently supports
only the Alcatel
Speed Touch, the ECI USB modem,
FDX-310 USB modems, though it seems only the Alcatel is in serious
use in the United States. Draytek is testing the Vigor2200USB with others
USB-based DSL modems including the Efficient
Networks 4060 USB DSL modem. So far, there's no information on whether
the Vigor2200USB will work with any of the USB connections from satellite
systems such as DirecWay
Basic setup of the Vigor2200USB was quick and easy. My total install
time was about 20 minutes from the time I opened the box until I was connected
to the Web.
The first step was to upload the modem firmware into router. I ran the
USB Modem Firmware utility from the Windows Start Menu and select the
modem to get it done.
I used the Web-browser to enter my ISP's name and a username and password.
Then I connected the USB modem to one of the USB ports on the rear panel
of the router and the firmware automatically uploaded to the modem.
That's it! The router is secure right out of the box. All that remained
for the basic set-up was to connect additional computers to the 10/100BaseT
Unfortunately, the easy-to-use wizards end with the basic setup. More
advanced setups are much more complicated. The details are beyond the
scope of this review, but if you know what you are doing, you have control
over Dynamic DNS, Call Scheduling, NAT, Static Routing and IP Filter/Firewall
settings. If you don't already know what you are doing, don't expect the
detailed user manual to help you much.
The Vigor2200USB includes a full range of features: 4 port 10/100 switch,
virtual private networking (VPN), built-in firewall and packet filter,
network address translation (NAT), dynamic host configuration protocol
(DHCP), dynamic domain name system (DNS), de-militarized zone (DMZ), port
forwarding and more.
The router comes with a Quick start guide, power adapter, Ethernet LAN
cable and a CD-ROM. The CD-ROM contains a detailed user manual and firmware
There are eleven LEDs on the front panel:
ACT (Activity) Blinks when power is supplied to the router and
the router is running normally.
DSL ON when the DSL modem is active.
USB-1 and USB-2 ON when the DSL modem is ready. Blinking when
there is data transferring between the Vigor2200USB and the DSL modem.
LINK-1 and LINK-2 ON when the PPP connection of the DSL modem
VPN ON when the VPN function is active.
P1, P2, P3, P4 (LAN) ON when a network card or hub is connected
- green for 100 Mbps connection, amber for 10 Mbps connection.
The Vigor2200USB has a reset button, a power jack, four 10/100Base-T RJ-45
switch ports, an Uplink button, and 2 USB ports. The extra USB port may
someday be used for things like analog modem backup, but currently it
has no function.
IP filter/firewall uses a 'set' and 'rule' system, where one event can
trigger additional actions. This provides good flexibility, but at the
expense of ease of use.
From the Web interface you can enable/disable and specify the number of
IP addresses to allocate from a start point. You can also assign static
You can create a Virtual Private Networking connection to another Vigor2200USB.
This creates a secure, encrypted 'tunnel' between the two hosts. The primary
downside of VPN connections between ADSL connections is that they operate
at the much slower "upload" speed (typically 128 - 256 kbps).
Because of the USB interface of this router, there is no Ethernet WAN
connection. Therefore, I was unable to run our normal suite of tests on
this unit. Instead, we decided to compare the throughput of the modem
alone, to the modem/router combination.
I tested a 768kbps/128kbps connection using DSL
Reports' speed test tool. I ran each combination three times at two
different test locations, resulting in two surprises. First, the router
noticeably improved the download performance of the modem. Secondly, the
router slightly improved the upload performance to one location, while
significantly degrading the upload performance to the other site.
So what do these results mean? To try to get a clearer
performance picture, I tested the router/no router combination again
by transferring a 3,189KB MP3 file via FTP. This time, the router nearly
doubled the download throughput, while slightly improving the upload
throughput. The increased throughput is most likely because the router
takes some of the load off of the older Cyrix M2 300MHZ desktop that
Obviously, this router doesn't just help. It helps a
If you have one of the supported USB modems and are looking for a hardware
router, the Vigor2200USB is the only choice you have as of this writing
(January 2002). Even so, its ease of use, extensive feature set, reasonable
price and especially the performance benefits it can provide make it a