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CradlePoint EVDO Router CTR350 Review

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Friday, 05 October 2007

CTR350 CradlePoint EVDO Travel Router Review


3Gstore.com has the CTR350 on sale! Check out the latest sale info on the CTR350

HOT TIP: Interested in bridging WiFi between remote buildings? or using "Campground" WiFi as internet source for your cradlepoint? or maybe you want to use available WiFi as failover for your home/office? check out our Pepwave Surf Review.


Update: 09/28/09 Firmware 2.4.5 provides PC770 and MC760
Update: 07/24/09 Firmware 2.4.2 provides support for MiFi 2200
Update: 05/27/09 Firmware 2.4 provides support for Alltel EC168 & Cricket A600
Update: 01/29/09 Firmware 2.3 provides support for even more devices
Update: 03/25/08 Firmware 2.1 provides support for HTC Touch and other devices
Update: 02/08/08 Firmware 2.0.0 provides support for the HSDPA and more EVDO devices
Update: 11/12/07
Firmware 1.7 provides support for the Franklin CDU680 and the BlackBerry 8830

 

The CradlePoint "Cellular Travel Router" CTR-350 is the smallest 3G/EVDO Router we've ever tested. At just 3.6" x 2.8" x 0.8" (92 mm x 70 mm x 19 mm) it is just a bit larger than a deck of cards!

Update: 02/08/08 Firmware 2.0.0 now makes the CTR350 an AT&T HSDPA Router

This tiny EVDO router targets the same mobile audience that broadband cellular service was designed for, and is hardly larger than many of the devices that will attach to it. The CTR350 will be a big hit for the RV crowd that is always looking to save space wherever they can. This next picture includes a marker and some quarters to serve as a size reference.

CradlePoint CTR350 EVDO Router from 3gstore.com

The CTR350 is compatible with more cell phones than any other 3g router and even charges cell phones while in use. With firmware version 1.6.0 (released 09/25/07), the CTR350 is compatible with most USB EVDO modems including the Sprint U720, 595U and U727 (shown below), as well as the Verizon USB720, USB727 and 595U. Compatibility with the Franklin CDU680 has arrived! Firmware release 1.7 gives the CDU680 and the Blackberry 8830 compatibility.

CTR350 with Sprint U727
Quite surprisingly, when used with an expresscard-to-USB adapter the CTR350 is even compatible with two ExpressCards - the Sprint EX720 and the Verizon V740 as shown below (however Sierra AirCard 597E does not work).

CTR350 with Verizon V740 using USB Adapter from 3gstore.com

If you have more than one compatible device, its not necessary to shut down and reboot -- the CTR350 supports hot swapping. For the latest in compatability information, make sure to check out our 3G Router Compatibility Chart.
CTR350 size against KR1

Though it is much smaller than its competition (thats a Kyocera KR1 under the CTR350 in picture above), the CTR350 is no slouch in the features and capabilities department. The CTR350 will connect to Sprint or Verizon through a compatible device attached to its USB port in just about 12 seconds, or connect to an ISP via cable/DSL modem attached to its ethernet WAN input, and then share that connectivity by becoming a WiFi hotspot with both 802.11 B and G service.


The Ethernet port in the CTR350 CANNOT be used to hook up computers or printers.
UPDATE: 3Gstore.com has firmware that enables the Ethernet Port

In addition to locking down the wifi connection by computer MAC address, the CTR350's wifi can be secured with encryption using 64/128 bit WEP, WPA/WPA2, and WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK. Connected computers are also secured by the CTR350's firewall that uses NAT addresses and stateful packet inspection to keep the riff raff at bay. Default configurations on the KR1 and Linksys 3G routers result in a 'wide open' wifi hotspot. For customers who are not too technically inclined, this could lead to hijacked connectivity. The CTR350 is different. The default configuration on the CTR350 requires a user to login before they can do any web surfing, making it that much more secure right out of the box.

Once authenticated on to the CTR350, users can take advantage of all that the internet has to offer including web, email, instant messaging, secure banking, VPN, FTP, Gaming, Remote Desktop, NetMeeting, Telnet and others. Another of the CTR350's unique differences is that it implements CradlePoint's proprietary and exclusive WiPipe technology that "helps prioritize time-critical packets to provide the best performance in latency-sensitive applications, while insuring that the background tasks are finished without interruption." In simpler terms, it uses special logic to help make certain types of internet connections go as quickly as possible, while ensuring that all the rest of the connections still complete their objective.

The CTR350 plays well with Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, gaming consoles, tablets and PDA's. Pretty much anything that can connect via WiFi 802.11 B/G, can connect to the CTR350. Those devices that don't have WiFi, will find it harder since the only ethernet port on the CTR350 is for bringing cable/dsl connectivity into, and not for sharing connection out of the CTR350. For those who must connect an ethernet only device or computer, some type of ethernet-to-wifi- convertor will be necessary.

The CTR350's USB port is setup to allow more than the typical 500ma found on common computers and other routers. Our testing concluded that the CTR350 does not degrade throughput or performance in any way. Maximum speeds we were seeing with our EVDO devices directly connected to our computers, were similar to that of speeds experienced through the CTR350. Besides, we're of the opinion that popular sites used to test EVDO speeds have to be used as a guide, not a reference.

Speedtest results of Verizon USB720 in CTR350

The WiFi range of the CTR350 was similar to that we've found on other wireless-G routers. We plan on doing some basic distance testing with comparisons against other 3G routers. We'll post those results onto this review in the near future.

One of the biggest complaints we've heard about all 3G routers is the quality of support offered by the manufacturers. Its too early for us to tell exactly how good manufacturer support for the CTR350 will be, but we can tell you the company has been very receptive to feedback we've offered, and we hope to have a long a beneficial relationship with them.

Before we get to a series of web admin screenshots, we're going to end this review with likes and dislikes:

What We Like About the CradlePoint CTR-350

  • Size. This thing is really tiny! We can't imagine anything that will ever be smaller.
  • Price. Finally, a consumer 3G router with MSRP under $200. And well under it, at that!
  • Compatibility. Yeah, we know that it doesn't even work with a single PCMCIA card, but everyone knows those are going away in time. This thing works with more USB and ExpressCard devices than all BUT the MB6800 router.
  • Security. The default configuration does not allow just anyone to browse the web.
  • Support. The manufacturers are responsive. They seem genuinely intent on making it better, based on our feedback.

What We Dislike About the CradlePoint CTR-350

  • No external WiFi antenna . The wifi range isn't bad really. But it is what it is, and you can't improve it.
  • No ethernet for clients. The only ethernet port is used for receiving cable/dsl connectivity.
    (Update: 12/19/07 3Gstore.com has firmware that enables Ethernet port for LAN Use)
  • No signal strength indication. (later firmware provides cellular RSSI for some modems)




CTR350 Administration

The web-based administration is one of the best we've seen. There are things you can do with this 3G router, that you can't do with the KR1 or Linksys or even the TopGlobal units. Just to name a few there is the ability to have
the router contact you via e-mail whenever there is a new firware update available for download from the Cradlepoint website. One that will be favored by most is the multiple selections of dynamic DNS providers that you can choose from. A lot of routers will force you to use specific pay services that I am sure one way or another they receive some type of "kickback" when a user signs up for the service directly from their little web portal.

When was the last time you saw a router that offered WDS? You might be asking yourself, just what is WDS? WDS stands for Wireless Distribution System. This feature alone will enable a user to expand their network, and quite possibly making it a completely wireless one at that.

The WDS feature gives the ability to allow access points to serve as both bridge and access point, meaning that any area in overlapping access points would automatically connect to each other. WDS is most commonly used in wireless networks where there is a large open area and connecting devices by wiring would be quite costly and rather difficult. WDS connections all use the same wireless channel, and you can enable wireless security for the system.

When WDS is enabled, this access point functions as a wireless repeater and is able to communicate with other wireless APs via WDS links. Note that WDS is incompatible with WPA -- both features cannot be used at the same time. A WDS link is bidirectional; so this AP must know the MAC Address (creates the WDS link) of the other AP, and the other AP must have a WDS link back to this AP. Make sure the APs are configured with same channel number.


The Admin section has many standard features and many features we have yet to see in a router:
  • Setup Wizard to help with first time setup
  • Security (WEP, WPA Personal, WPA Enterprise)
  • VPN Support
  • Mac Address Filter
  • Firewall
  • Remote Admin via any port
  • Time server
  • Logging
  • Browser based Firmware Update

Features Unique to CTR350

  • Require User Log in to use router (optional)
  • Gaming Prioritization / Traffic Shaping
  • Web Filter (in and out)
  • Schedules for Firewalls
  • Emaiing of Logs
  • Firmware version indicator
  • Extensive Dynamaic DNS Support
  • Wireless Signal Strength for connected users
  • Extensive online help

CradlePoint CTR350 EVDO Router from 3gstore.com
CradlePoint CTR350 EVDO Router from 3gstore.com


CradlePoint CTR350 EVDO Router from 3gstore.com


CradlePoint CTR350 EVDO Router from 3gstore.com

CradlePoint CTR350 EVDO Router from 3gstore.com


CradlePoint CTR350 EVDO Router from 3gstore.com


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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 July 2010 )
 
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