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WiFlyer Review

Posted on 26-Dec-2005 10:05 by M Freitas | Filed under: Reviews

The WiFlyer arrived here with a nice surprise: even though I didn't specify the power adapter format, the guys at Always On Wireless sent an Australia/New Zealand adapter in the box - I can use this while overseas and here. This was an interesting touch - and thoughtful.

The WiFlyer is a Wireless LAN access point, and a very interesting device. Because of its small size (80 x 25.4 x 129.5 mm / 3.2" x 1.00"x 5.10") and weight (only 185g) it can be packed on a road warrior's travel kit for use in those hotels with broadband but very uncomfortable chairs.

The WiFlyer unpacked
The WiFlyer unpacked

In addition to being a wireless access point, the WiFlier also has an ethernet adapter, so you can plug a non-wireless capable computer directly to the small box.

But what is really interesting is its ability to connect to a phone line and dial-up to your ISP, as a modem - a wireless modem for that matter. It comes with a built-in V.92/V.90 compatible modem, with digital PBX protection, as an alternative connection.

In theory you can simply plug a broadband ethernet cable to it and you automatically have a wireless access point. In reality you better configure the security settings otherwise someone else in another room - or on the street - can suck your Internet connection without you knowing. But this is true to any wireless access point.

The WiFlyer connections
The WiFlyer connections

The device allows you to create a phonebook with access numbers (for different locations for example) so that even if your hotel does not offer broadband access you can still connect via dial-up and not be bound to a desk.

The device is really simple: a few status LEDs in the front, and three connectors in the back: phone line, WAN and LAN.

The entire configuration is done via web pages, served from the device (when first installed it is on IP address

Those pages (a lot of them actually) allow the user to configure all aspects of the WiFlyer, from the dial-ip numbers to security, incudling options to update firmware and reboot the device, through very deep configuration settings such as network packet size, etc (you might not need to ever go there).

Once your computer finds the WiFlyer for the first time your browser will open the configuration site automatically for you. You can then setup the dial-up number, or switch to broadband mode. There are essentially difference on how it works, but just on the connection side, not for the user.

After configuration for dial-up users will be able to connect directly from this web page - simply click the "Dial Now!" button and the WiFlyer will connect to your ISP. And you can do this from your bed in the hotel while the WiFlyer in on the desk, or you can have this little box in your home office (remember, it will work as a Wi-Fi access point for both dial-up and broadband).

The dial-up configuration will work with standard ISPs, plus AOL, MSN, Earthlink, IPass.

If you can't wait your computer to boot completely before you connect to your ISP and want to be ready ASAP, there's an instant connect button on the device itself. Press it once and it will dial the currently selected ISP number. This way, when your computer is ready to work the connection will be already established.

The WiFlyer works with any other Wi-Fi 802.11b device, meaning a maximum speed of 11Mbps (megabits per second). This is more than enough for most broadband (and dial-up) users, but for communication between multiple computers in the same network it may be a little slow - if you do have many computers then you should be looking at a fixed solution instead of this ultra-portable Wi-Fi device.

In terms of security it supports WEP 64bit and 128bit keys, shared, and MAC filtering. The firmware allows static & dynamic routing with TCP/IP, VPN pass-through (IPSec, PPTP, L2TP), NAT, PPPoE. The built-in DHCP (client & server) means no need to configure anything on your computer: it will receive an address on an internal network automatically (unless you manually modify the PC's configurations).

Users can configure virtual servers by redirecting incoming connections on specific ports to a determined computer on the network. It is also possible to configure addresses on a DMZ.

The WiFlyer will work with any 802.11b device, including Windows, Linux and Mac OS PCs, and even with PDAs such as Pocket PC and Palm.

  • Small and light;
  • Standard 802.11b;
  • Dial-up option for Internet connection;
  • Easy installation;
  • Plenty of configuration options for different network configurations;
  • Visual feedback during dial-up (if initiated through administration web page).

  • Sometimes the configuration web site will not come up and require to power cycle the device;