Product review: WebRamp offers fast, easy Internet access

If you need to provide your branch offices with fast Internet access, you should definitely consider a WebRamp 410i.

Ramp Networks' latest update to its integrated ISDN and four-port router offers a substantial improvement over its predecessor, the WebRamp Entre. With many new features and performance enhancements, and the addition of improved bridging and virtual private network (VPN) support, the 410i is a great choice for branch offices.

The 410i now supports STAC compression, WINS Server, user-configurable profiles, browser-based firmware updates, an auto-detect switch, and a Service Profile Identifier (SPID) feature.

The new browser-based interface, Express Internet, lets you easily configure and monitor the 410i. Unlike products such as Pivotal Networking's StarGazer, which uses Java applets, the 410i's built-in Web server consists solely of HTML and CGI scripts, and supports access from virtually any platform. However, unlike the StarGazer's real-time Java-based status applet, you will need to refresh the status page to view current information. However, using the Windows-based EasyView application, you can still monitor a router's real-time activity.

Using Express Internet to configure and test my setup was a snap. Unlike the WebRamp Entre, the 410i now automatically detects both your switch and your SPIDs when you enter your ISDN phone numbers.

The time- and user-based Internet access controls let you allocate resources to specific people at different times, and is helpful in saving precious bandwidth.

On the downside, the WebRamp 410i does not offer telecommuter capabilities, such as dial-in access, although it does support VPNs via the Point to Point Tunneling Protocol.

None the less, WebRamp 410i's strengths easily outweigh any problems. It is best suited as a fast, inexpensive Internet access point for your smaller branch offices.

Jeff Senna is a senior analyst at the InfoWorld Test Center. Contact him at jeff_senna@infoworld.comThe bottom line: VERY GOODWebRamp 410iThis ISDN router is well-suited for providing high-speed Internet access to small to midsize branch offices at a reasonable price.

Pros: Strong configuration tools; Web interface; STAC compression; VPN and bridging supportCons: Lacks support for analog dial-up connectionsRamp Networks, Santa Clara, California; (888) 726-7638 (toll-free), +1 (408) 988-5353; fax: +1 (408) 988-6363; www.rampnet.comPrice: $US599 (suggested retail)Platforms: Any workstation equipped with 10Base-T Ethernet; TCP/IP software.

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