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Pepwave Surf On the Go Review

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Friday, 18 November 2011

Pepwave Surf On the Go Review


The Pepwave Surf OTG is a small portable "do it all" device, which allows you to easily connect to WiFi Hotspots, WAN (Cable/DSL) or cellular modems. This gives you the ability to create a larger wireless network in your home/office environment and on the road to grab onto your favorite local hotspot. The Pepwave Surf OTG supports popular cellular carriers (Click for compatibility chart) like Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and continues to add new wireless 3G/4G modems.

Using a Cellular 3G/4G Modem:

When you launch the Pepwave Surf OTG the first time setup will allow you to configure the router. This allows you to quickly configure the router to either connect to a WiFi hotspot, cellular 3G/4G wireless modem (pictured to left), or connect to your Cable/DSL modem. You can also configure Failover from Wired/Wireless connections, which allows you to connect your backup connection if your primary connection goes down.

After you've selected the Cellular tab, you'll now be able to plug your wireless 3G/4G modem into the Pepwave Surf OTG and hit the connect button. The connection type you choose is persistent so you don't need to make any changes in the future unless you want to use a different connection method. This will quickly connect your modem and allow you to provide WiFi or Ethernet access to share your connection with multiple users or devices. One thing that we really like is after the connection is established to the Pepwave Surf OTG you'll see four large signal bars to quickly gauge how good your connection is to the cellular network. The video below demonstrates highlights the features and demonstrates how easy the setup is:

Pepwave Surf On The Go Video Review:



After you're connected to the Pepwave Surf OTG you can run an Ethernet cable into your laptop/desktop, a switch or connect all your computers via wireless and enjoy the internet. They have also added health monitoring tools and options to ensure that your modem remains connected to the router.

Using WiFi as WAN:

Now, lets say that you're outside of a cellular area, or perhaps you're near your monthly data cap and want to jump onto a local WiFi hotspot to save on usage charges. The Pepwave Surf OTG allows you to quickly change the "WAN Mode" over to wireless, which allows you to go into different scanning modes. These modes can be manually configured or if you prefer an automated process, simply set the Pepwave Surf On The Go to "Connect to any open AP mode". So, what is the difference between these modes exactly?

Manual Mode: This mode allows you to manually configure settings to any wireless network within range like a local Starbucks for example. If the network you're trying to connect to has WEP/WPA security you will need to use this mode and manually enter the security credentials of the network you'd like to join, just like you do with your laptop. This process only takes a few minutes to complete and after you've applied to settings you simply hit the connect button. In fact, you can save the profile into the settings directly, which allows the router to automatically connect to the network in the future. After configured to the network you can turn your Pepwave Surf OTG on/off as much as you like and it will still automatically connect to the saved WiFi networks. Refer to the picture below for a preview of the saved profiles option.

(Save up to 30 profiles for your favorite WiFi networks)

Connect to any Open AP Mode: This mode is the equivalent to "auto pilot" and allows you to join any open WiFi networks in the area. In this mode all you need to do is plug your Pepwave Surf OTG in and it will automatically join the first open WiFi network it gets a signal from. If that WiFi network happens to disappear, the Surf OTG will automatically start searching again for any other open hotspots in the area. In our testing, we've found that it took approximately 1:10 seconds from the time we turned the Pepwave Surf On The Go on, until it found and successfully connected to an open network (Time may very based on WiFi signal strength). This can be the perfect setup for travelers, RVers and anybody that wants a hassle free way to quickly join and repeat an existing WiFi signal.

Pepwave Surf OTG offers both 2.4/5Ghz WiFi:

The Surf OTG also offers a dual band Omni antenna that features 3dBi of gain on the 2.4Ghz WiFi frequency and 5dBi of gain on the 5Ghz WiFi frequency. The WiFi as WAN feature offers  100mW of amplification on 2.4Ghz band, and 50mW on the 5Ghz WiFi band. Aside from the Cradlepoint MBR1400 (which may be overkill for the average user), the Pepwave Surf OTG is the only other solution for users looking to operate on the 5Ghz WiFi frequency. The main benefits WiFi on the 5Ghz band offers are less interference with 4G "WiMAX/LTE" wireless modems, and metro users dealing with a lot of wireless networks in a close proximity. With most WiFi operating on the 2.4Ghz band this can be a huge advantage and gives you more flexibility as more routers begin transmitting on the 5Ghz frequency band.

Advanced Features:

For more advanced users the Pepwave OTG offers features like port forwarding, which allow you to open specific ports for remote devices. This can be extremely handy for people that have devices outside the building where a long cable run is required to hard-wire the device. All you need to do is simply connect the Pepwave via the main network and you can remotely manage the ports on your external devices. In fact, users using devices that may require different amounts of bandwidth, you also have QoS controls (Quality Of Service), which allow you to manage the amount of bandwidth for specific applications.

<- (Left) QoS: The Pepwave Surf On The Go allows you to configure QoS (Quality Of Service), which allows you to easily manage by both source and destination by priority. The default options are either Voice, Video or Background and these allow you to optimize the connection based on the devices you're using.

Examples: Lets say that you're using the Surf OTG to provide internet connectivity for your children, QoS allows you to prioritize the amount of bandwidth used for specific tasks, which ensures that you'll have enough bandwidth for anything you need to do on the Internet. For users that want to use this to connect a VOIP or PBX phone you can also specify voice traffic by priority, which ensures your VOIP/PBX will have the first priority, and you won't get choppy quality when you begin to surf the internet or stream video.   


What do we like about the Pepwave Surf OTG?
  • Wireless 'N' capable for excellent wireless range
  • Connect a 3G/4G Wireless modem in under 15 seconds
  • Port Forwarding for devices offsite 
  • QoS Controls to prioritize bandwidth based on application
  • Store up to 30 WiFi profiles
  • Connect to any AP mode - Allows Pepwave to automatically connect to open networks
  • Connect to open networks automatically

Con's:
  • No failover from Cellular to WiFi
  • Only one Ethernet Port

Conclusion:

The Pepwave SOTG is an amazingly intuitive device that allows you to stay connected anywhere your travels may take you. This device may be small, but don't let that fool you as it packs quite a punch! If you've got a wireless modem and are looking for something small to take on the go, the Pepwave OTG is a great device to throw in your suitcase when you hit the road. The Pepwave Surf OTG offers the versatility of a wireless 3G/4G connection and powerful ability to pickup WiFi networks around you.


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