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Cradlepoint IBR600/650 Integrated Broadband Router Hands-On Review & Video

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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Cradlepoint IBR600/650 Integrated Broadband Router Hands-On Review & Video


The IBR600 and IBR650 are the latest routers to leave Cradlepoint's warehouse and offer new features never seen before on their router lineup. These integrated broadband routers - which are identical other than the fact that the IBR600 features WiFi capabilities while the IBR650 does not - are designed for extremely rugged applications, where a traditional router and wireless modem won't be applicable. The device is small, just (3.3 X 4 X 0.9 inches) and features either a Sprint 3G or Verizon 3G embedded wireless radio to provide cellular connectivity anywhere service is available. This makes the IBR600/650 ideal for ATMs, kiosks, digital signage, surveillance or M2M applications where you need a "no hassles" reliable internet connection.


The IBR600/650 can fit in the palm of your hand

The IBR600 includes two detachable 2X2 MIMO 'N' WiFi antennas for increased range and features two SSIDs for individual security and QoS settings (useful if you're creating a public WiFi hotspot; you can provide a separate SSID for guests that gives them access to the internet but not to the network settings). The WiFi can be turned off on the IBR600, but if your application requires a router with NO WiFi at all, the IBR650 is the best option, since it doesn't include WiFi at all. Both models feature two Ethernet ports, which can be configured as either WAN (to connect a hardwired internet connection like cable, DSL, etc) or LAN (to provide internet access via ethernet) pictured below. This gives you more control and one more Ethernet port than you'll find on similar routers like the Sierra AirLink Raven. With the ability to configure the ports you also have the option to load balance between the embedded 3G modem and Cable/DSL connection or rely on the embedded modem for a quick failover solution on mission-critical applications.  

IBR600/IBR650 ethernet ports

The IBR600/650 also includes a mounting bracket, allowing technicians to easily deploy these in the field and ensure that the router is secure. This can be incredibly useful if you plan to deploy these in a train, bus, or mobile surveillance unit where things might get a little bumpy. The device is incredibly reliable and can be accessed with WiPipe's cloud management system and comes with GPS to easily figure out the location of devices in the field. If you're looking to deploy several IBR600/650 routers into the field, the initial configuration couldn't be easier for a field technician. The kit includes a mounting bracket to quickly mount the router anywhere, and with the cellular radio embedded into the device it couldn't be simpler to setup. All you need to do is turn on the router and it automatically connects to the cellular network. This also saves you time and energy by removing the concern of getting a wireless modem that may not work with the router. You also get two included cellular antennas to boost your 3G reception; these can even be swapped out for larger external antennas (sold separately) using a standard SMA Male adapter. In our testing we've found that the included antennas offered 5 to 7dB of gain compared to a stand-alone modem tested at the same location.

You can watch our full video review of the IBR600 below:


Basic Features:

Increased Temperature Threshold:

The IBR600/650 is built for rugged applications and has better temperature ratings than Cradlepoint's line of consumer 3G/4G routers. This means if you plan to use an external enclosure like a Pelican Case, you don't have to worry about the router getting too hot or cold. In fact, the IBR600/650 is rated for use at temperatures of -10 to 60'C (14 to 140'F) when using the embedded 3G modem and -10 to 50'C (14 to 122'F) when using a standard Ethernet connection via WAN. This is an increase from all the other Cradlepoint routers and gives you that edge when you need to deploy hardware in extreme climates.

Load Balancing Options:

With both the IBR600 and IBR650 including 2 Ethernet ports and an embedded 3G cellular modem and the IBR600 also featuring WiFi as WAN (WAW), you get a diverse range of connections to load balance between. If you plan to deploy these outside a storefront you can utilize the embedded modem as well as your Cable/DSL connection to offset the load and give you more bandwidth. Now, lets say that you don't have the convenience of running a hardwired cable out there, or perhaps you're in a mobile application where there aren't any hardwired connections. You can utilize a WAW connection, which allows you to use the 3G modem plus any WiFi network within range to provide additional bandwidth (IBR600 only - this isn't an option on the IBR650 since that model doesn't feature WiFi). When you have load balancing configured, you'll have more available bandwidth to support more simultaneous users.

WiPipe Central Managed Support:

The Cradlepoint IBR600/650 offer WiPipe support, which gives you a central point to access all of your devices on the network. You can configure different product groups or organize them by their purpose and quickly make changes to all the routers within a specific group. If you're supporting a large number of routers this can save you a lot of time with configuration changes. After you enter a specific group, you'll see a main console window with all of the features you'd see if the device was on your local network. After you save the settings, all the routers in that group will then reboot and apply the changes. Below you'll find a screenshot of the WiPipe management service:

WiPipe Central Managed router support

Advanced Enterprise Features:


Routing and Pass Through Mode:

The IBR600/650 can be used as a stand-alone router or configured as a pass-through-only device. This allows you to adapt to any network scenario because you can use the IBR600/650 without any other equipment OR with your existing setup. If you're just using the IBR600/650 alone, you can utilize the admin interface on the router to quickly configure any settings you'd like to your equipment. However, if you've already got some type of firewall in place, "pass-through mode" allows you to completely disable the firewall. This means you can quickly drop the IBR600/650 into an existing configuration as either a main internet source or backup solution, without worrying about any NAT traversal issues. The IBR600/650 is one of the few routers that support the ability to switch configurations on the fly.

Configurations where Pass Through is needed:

  • POS / point of sale / retail or informational kiosks
  • Power, Water, Environmental utility sensors and monitors
  • industrial automation and monitoring
  • HVAC monitoring and support
  • Traffic surveillance, monitoring and control
  • Homebound medical patient monitoring
  • On-site security video surveillance
  • Remote Device Management
  • Building Automation and Security

Custom Hotspot Services:     

If you plan to deploy the IBR600 to provide WiFi connectivity for your customers, the hotspot services will be a great tool for you. There are a variety of choices for the configuration, including either a "simple" setup or a "RADIUS/UAM" advanced setup. The simple setup allows you to direct customers to a custom "terms of use" page that they must accept prior to using your internet connection. After they've accepted the terms you can either configure the router to go directly to the URL they intended to, or have them redirected to the site of choice (like your business's home page, for example).

Configuring a custom hotspot

The more advanced "Radius/UAM" setting will allow you to configure a specific server address with a defined authentication and accounting port. This allows you to then configure a shared secret key for users to connect to the WiFi network. You will then be able to direct them to the UAM server (web authentication portal) or to the site they intended to visit. After you've got these settings configured you'll be able to define both session and idle timeouts to ensure you don't have users exploiting your store's WiFi network.

When you configure a local hotspot you can also configure QoS (Quality of Service) to prioritize important network traffic. If you don't have a dedicated network for this specific device it will help ensure the guests on the network aren't using to much bandwidth and stopping you from getting your work done. You will also be able to configure different security settings for both networks, which will be useful if you want to make the guest security simpler and compatible with more hardware.

GRE Tunneling & IPSec VPN:

Both the IBR600 and IBR650 offer GRE (Generic Routing Encapsulation), which allows you to encapsulate a variety of network protocols. This can be useful if the protocol that you're using to establish a VPN doesn't support IPSec VPN protocols. Both GRE and IPSec VPN tunneling allow you to create or terminate a VPN connection that is more secure than a standard VPN. This is achieved by requiring encryption on both the incoming and outgoing router to simulate a local area network passed over the web. This allows you to securely connect to servers, printers and other devices that you don't want vulnerable to outside network traffic.

SSH Server:

The Secure Shell allows you to access the IBR600/650 locally or if deployed in the field remotely. This gives the network administrator the control to easily access all details about the router using a CLI (Command Line Interface). You'll be able to quickly reference all of your routers on the network, and this doesn't use much data because it's a text only user interface. When you're dealing with a 5GB allowance from Sprint or Verizon this is a great way to save on some bandwidth if you're constantly remoting into the system to monitor equipment. 

SSH Command List

GPIO 4-Pin Connector:

The GPIO 4-Pin connecter is unique to the IBR600/650 routers and allows you to physically power cycle external hardware. This feature is very similar to our IP Power Switch, but does require additional hardware. If you have a relay switch in place, the device can be configured to trigger the breaker if connectivity is lost. If you have equipment on the network that needs to be cycled when connectivity is lost this would require zero user intervention to power cycle the equipment. This can allow you to save time and money by not requiring a technician to go on site to physically reset equipment on the breaker. 


GPS Tracking:

If you're deploying these in mobile platforms this feature can be extremely useful when used with the integrated 3G embedded modem. You can access the GPS status and look at a satellite map view of exactly where your routers currently are. This can be useful to verify that your drivers are staying on route and not going into unauthorized areas. You can also use this information to determine exactly where you may be losing service to help determine if you need some type of external antenna to help boost cellular service.   



Conclusion

The IBR600/650 offers business users one of the most diverse routers on the market today. With features like personal hotspot configuration, QoS, embedded 3G modems, GRE/IPSec VPN and more you'll have a diverse range of applications where you can deploy this router. You can simplify your deployments by removing any type of hardware compatibility issues and quickly get back to focusing on company operations. The combination of hands-free setup and central WiPipe management tools allows your IT personal to easily maintenance all of your hardware. When you've got a business that relies on a consistent internet connection the IBR600/650 can help ensure that you stay connected.   


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Last Updated ( Thursday, 29 September 2011 )
 
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