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Zoom Model 4501 3G Wireless-N Desktop Router review

Kat Orphanides
14 Feb 2010
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Zoom Model 4501 3G Wireless-N Desktop Router
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
45
inc VAT

This simple, inexpensive router makes it easy to share your 3G network

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Specifications

draft 802.11n, 1x 10/100 Ethernet ports

Zoom's 4501 router is flexible and can share two types of internet connection: a 3G one, via a dongle plugged into its USB port, or standard broadband via an Ethernet connection from a cable or ADSL modem. It has just two 10/100 Ethernet ports, which are by default configured as one WAN and one LAN port.

The 4501 uses 802.11n technology but isn't a true N router, as it has just a single antenna, a theoretical maximum throughput of 150Mbit/s and no support for channel bonding. The lack of channel bonding is no loss, as it's recommended that this is disabled on routers due to the interference it causes by using two wireless channels.

Performance was mostly good and the router achieved a respectable throughput of 46.6Mbit/s at 1m and 21Mbit/s at 10m when using our Centrino laptop. The single antennas showed its limitations at range and we were unable to maintain a connection in our test at 20m. We were unimpressed with Zoom's £15 4411 wireless adaptor. Although the 63.3Mbit/s transfer rate at close range was very good, 14.98Mbit/s at 10m was unimpressive and we got no connection at 20m.

Configuration is easy thanks to a step-by-step wizard built into the router's web interface. To use the 4501 with a 3G mobile broadband connection, you'll have to enter your provider's connection settings. If you opt to use broadband for your primary connection, you can later set up a 3G connection as a failover in the Basic Settings section of the router's main administration interface.

This is extremely useful if you need an internet connection available at all times.

The configuration wizard also prompts you to secure your router's wireless signal using WEP, WPA or the most secure WPA2. The Model 4501 supports WiFi Protected Setup (WPS), so you can join compatible devices by pressing a button on both the router and client; however, simply typing in your security password is often quicker.

Once you've completed the configuration process, you'll get to check and confirm your settings. If you've opted for a 3G-only network connection, you can configure the router to use the Ethernet WAN port as a second LAN port, so that you can connected two wired devices directly to the router.

The 4501 has an outstanding web interface, with clearly marked and annotated menu options and a decent range of features. These include URL blocking, where you can select which websites you want to ban people from visiting. You'll need to enter a list manually, so this is a good choice for blocking one-off sites; for full parental controls you'll need dedicated software.

There's basic Quality of Service (QoS) to prioritise traffic across designated ports or IP addresses, although you'll only likely want to use these options if you're noticing a problem with real-time traffic, such as VoIP phone calls. Finally, there's support for dynamic DNS services including DynDNS. These services provide you with a simple web address that always points at your home, even if your ISP only provides a dynamic IP address rather than a static one. It's a great way to make it easy to access services you're running at home, such as an FTP server, from anywhere in the world.

The 4501 supports a wide range of 3G dongles, including all the Huawei and ZTE models we've seen from UK mobile broadband providers and Virgin's new TCT X200S. A regularly updated list of supported models is available on Zoom's website.

Despite having only two Ethernet ports and a somewhat limited wireless range, the 4501 is easily the best 3G router we've seen under £100. It has excellent support for most dongles, a simple interface and quick transfer speeds at distances of 10m and under. Provided its short range doesn't put you off, Model 4501 is a great buy and perfect if you need to have a backup internet connection.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
Modem typenone
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
Draft 802.11n supportyes
Draft 802.11n 5GHz supportno
MIMOyes
Turbo modenone
Stated speed150Mbit/s

Security

128-bit WEPyes
WPAyes
WPA2yes
Firewallyes
MAC address filteringyes
DMZyes

Physical

Size32x130x121mm
Antennas1
Internal/external antennasexternal
Upgradeable antennayes
Number of WAN ports2
Ethernet ports1
Ethernet connection speed10/100
Other portsUSB
Wall mountableno
Power consumption on2W

Other Features

Dynamic DNSyes
Universal Plug and Play supportyes
DHCP serveryes
MAC spoofingyes
Port forwardingyes
WDS Supportyes
USB device supportyes
QoSyes

Buying Information

Price£45
Warrantyone year RTB
Supplierhttp://www.ebuyer.com
Details