Test Drive: DrayTek Vigor2200E DSL/Cable Router

By SmallBusinessComputing Staff | Posted September 23, 2002

I began this review the Vigor 2200 DSL/Cable Router in the same way that I begin every review: by going to the manufacturer's Web site to get some basic information about the product. It left me a little skeptical to say the least. Unfortunately, DrayTek has the worst Web site that I've ever seen. There is a single page dedicated to the Vigor 2200, and the page is nothing more than a commercial for the product.

Undaunted, (luckily the company's American distributor has a slightly better site) I decided to telephone DrayTek and get some of my questions answered by telephone. Unfortunately, the only phone number that's printed in the instruction manual is to the DrayTek office in Taiwan. The American distributor only provides support via e-mail.

So, I feared the worst. However, as I continued, I realized that the product is so easy to use that you may never even need technical support. The Vigor2200E has one of the simplest user interfaces that I have ever seen on a router, and the instruction manual is written in a very step-by-step manner. This product passed all of my tests in flying colors.

Basic Features
The Vigor2200E is essentially an Internet sharing device. As with most similar devices, it contains a built in DHCP server and a NAT firewall. The unit is configurable by using either a Web browser or a Telnet session and is firmware upgradeable. The unit offers full remote management capabilities. VPN pass through support is via the PPTP or IPSec protocol.

Some versions of the Vigor2200E contain a built in ISDN link which can be used to establish a backup route to the Internet should the primary route fail. The ISDN interface supports bandwidth on demand and includes a virtual TA server that can be used to support ISDN based voice and fax calls. The ISDN interface can also be used as a remote access server.

Setup/installation
As with most of the newer routers, the Vigor2200E's configuration is Web-based - one of the easier to use that I've seen. The interface includes a Quick Setup section to configure the basics and get online fast. Once initially configured, you can click the Online Status link for a report that verifies that everything is working correctly. This easy to use interface combined with the step-by-step style instruction manual made setup a breeze.

Performance
I used http://dslreports.com/stest to test the speed of my WAN connection. I ran the DSL speed tests several times on the various available DSL servers. I received speeds ranging anywhere from 32 Kbps on up to 303 Kbps. (I live in a rural area of South Carolina where DSL speed is limited to 384 Kbps.) Although the tests weren't run at peak hours (11 PM), I suspect that Internet traffic was to blame for the variation in speeds. I suspect that the unit would have no trouble keeping up with my DSL connection under normal circumstances.

WAN-side Setup
Setting up the WAN connection was simple. The user interface gives you a choice of using PPPoE, PPTP, or a simple static or dynamic IP address. My DSL connection uses PPPoE. The resulting screen had me input my ISP name, user name, and password, and I was in business. My only problem here was initially forgetting to click the Enable button to turn on the connection. After doing so, everything worked perfectly.

Virtual Servers and Port Mapping
The Vigor 2200E supports a single DMZ, and up to ten port redirections. As expected, these features worked exactly as they were supposed to. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the unit offered so many port redirections, as some of the other routers in its class only offer one or two port redirections.

Security
The unit that I tested seems to take security seriously. It contains all of the standard fire wall features, such as the ability to enable or disable ports, and the ability to block specific IP addresses or MAC addresses. However, where this unit really excels is in the fact that it allows you to input up to 84 custom filter rules.

I tested the various filter options and all seemed to work correctly. I also used the Shields Up utility at http://grc.com to "test My Shields" and to "Probe My Ports" The firewall completely protected my network in both tests.

Redundancy
Most of the low-end routers that have been coming out lately contain a port for attaching either an analog or an ISDN modem for the sake of redundancy. The idea is that should the primary connection fail, the modem can establish a dial up link to the Internet until the broadband connection becomes available again. The Vigor 2200 offers such functionality, but only via an ISDN connection.

DrayTek has obviously worked very hard to make the ISDN interface as useful as possible. The unit allows you to configure profiles that allow ISDN connections to up to 16 different remote networks under various conditions.

The unit can also act as a RAS server. One of the most impressive things about the built in RAS server is that the call back feature is budget aware. This feature will automatically disable callback if the budget has been exceeded.

Finally, the unit contains a virtual TA server. This means that the ISDN connection can be used for data, voice, or fax. Thresholds can also be set so that the unit will use only a single ISDN B channel until the ISDN link's bandwidth is consumed. At that point, the unit will establish a link using the second B channel unless it's being used for voice or fax. When connecting to an ISP, each B channel must place a separate phone call. Therefore, initially limiting the ISDN connection to a single B channel saves toll charges if the full available bandwidth isn't necessary.

Unfortunately, I was unable to test any of these wonderful features as ISDN is unavailable in my area. However, nothing else that I saw during the course of this review would give me any reason to doubt that these features work.

Wireless Capabilities
Unfortunately, the Vigor2200E doesn't support wireless networking. However, DrayTek manufactures another version called the Vigor 2200We that does everything that the 2200E does with wireless networking support, and it's only $40 more.

Summary
In conclusion, the Vigor 2200E works well and is extremely easy to use and has a bargain price. I've never seen a router that was so easy to configure, and DrayTek didn't sacrifice advanced functionality in the name of ease of use.

Model Number: Vigor2200E ($129)

Pros : Specify up to 84 different filter rules for the firewall; remote access feature with budget aware call back feature; Supports dial-up connections to up to 16 different networks; thorough instruction manual

Cons: Very poor quality product Web site; the tech support department is in Taiwan; no support for L2TP.

Reprinted from 80211-planet.com.

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