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Top Global Mobile Router modem with Wi-Fi review
Posted on 11-Mar-2008 11:49 by M Freitas | Filed under: Reviews

For about a month I have been using the Top Global MB6800 mobile modem router with Wi-Fi, just released and distributed through APT in New Zealand.

The MB6800 is a solution for people who need a wireless LAN on the move, Internet connection at any time, and a backup connection for their wired (DSL or cable modem) Internet access.

The device measures just 180 mm x 135 mm x 25 mm and weighs in at only 300 grams, and looks pretty much like many other wireless routers - except for the shiny exterior case and some additional slots that brings the mobile data to your network.

In addition to five RJ45 ports - one for WAN (DSL or cable modem) and four ports for your LAN and Wireless LAN (802.11g) - you will also find on the left side a PC Card slot that accomodates either a mobile data PC Card or Express card (with adapter). In the back you also find a USB port and a RS232 port.

The official site lists a large variety of cards being compatible with the MB6800, including CDMA EVDO, HSDPA, EDGE and GPRS options.

I have tested it with four different mobile modems, two on Telecom New Zealand's CDMA EVDO Rev-A network (Sierra Wireless AC595 PC Card, AC595U USB) and two with the Vodafone New Zealand HSDPA service (Novatel Merlin XU780 Express Card and Huawei vodem USB).

All worked ok, except the Vodafone vodem which failed to be recognised. It could be something with Vodafone's customisation for this device, because it is listed as compatible in the Top Global website.

When configuring the MB6800 you can define priorities for your connections, leaving your DSL as primary and the mobile data as secondary. In this way you have an automatic failover capability and if the wired modem is unavailable for any reason then the MB6800 will automatically connect to the mobile data service.

In my tests I found that unpluging the WAN cable or turning the modem off would start the mobile data connection in a couple of seconds. Since it also support dynamic DNS services, it can be configured to automatically change the public IP address - I tested this with and it worked really well to keep my smtp server available to the world even when our cable modem connection died during the test period (or when I pulled the plug just to try it).

The firmware offers DHCP, DNS configurations (although only one DNS server can be configured, and I would expect two for redundancy). A flexible port forwarding is available, as well as a DMZ setting for a specifc PC in your LAN.

Security features include WPA, 64-bit WEP & 128-bit RC4, MAC filtering, URL filtering, Javascript, Java applets and ObjectX filter on the router, and a packet inspection firewall.

The configuration, as normal these days, is through a web interface, which is very easy to use and understand. I just would like that many of the features wouldn't require a reboot to commit the changes, but I guess those are loaded into tables at boot time.

This web interface also shows important information such as time connected, total bytes transferred (up and down), mobile signal strength amongst others.

With an appropriate mobile card (Novatel EX720, S720 or U720) it even supports GPS tracking and Google Earth integration - which I couldn't test though.

Performance seems to be good. I've read many reports of users having connection problems with excessive ARP "background noise" on cable modem networks, but the MB6800 connected solidly without a problem - for many weeks - without a reboot or lockup. It also had no problem with a bittorrent client running 24/7 during this time and supported Internet-based multiplayer PC games well, even while other four PCs in the same LAN shared the 10 Mbps connection.

- dual wired and mobile data connections for higher availability or mobility
- mutliple mobile standards support (CDMA EVDO, HSDPA, EDGE, GPRS)
- light
- informative web interface
- frequent firmware updates

- I had to buy small rubber pads to fit on the bottom of the unit otherwise it is too slippery on top of the desk
- a couple of times the dynamic DNS did not update when the connection reverted from mobile data to wired.

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