Multiline Internet-access servers for network users abound, but most of them require that you supply external communications deviceseither modems or ISDN terminal adapters. The Netopia R2121 Dual Analog Router comes with two 56-Kbps modems built in, making it the simplest Internet-connection gizmo yet. You can add a third (external) modem, for a maximum possible throughput of 168 Kbps, or use the third line to accommodate a dial-in telecommuter. Web-based configuration screens let you get the router up and running in minutes, and a built-in Ethernet hub makes this a completely self-contained SOHO access server.
The back of the exotic-looking Netopia router sports two modem ports; two phone ports, for a phone or fax machine; a serial port, for a third, external modem; a console serial port; and an eight-port Ethernet hub. On the front, lights display the state of the modems, hub, and router. Setup consists of connecting the box to your network and a pair of phone lines, applying power, and running the Web-based SmartStart utility. Dynamic Host Control Protocol and Network Address Translation support let you automatically configure the TCP/IP settings for your hosted computers while using a single dynamically assigned IP address from your ISP.
On-demand Internet routing dials up an ISP on the first modem as users access the Internet; when traffic warrants, the router dials up the second or third modem (if one is attached) to increase bandwidth. Alas, you can configure only basic Internet access via the Web interface; for more-complex configurations, you have to use Telnet and a text-menu interface.
One interesting feature, called SmartPhone, lets you connect analog devices to the Dual Analog Router so they can share analog lines with the modems. If you need to make an analog call with one of these devices, simply picking up the line causes the router to drop one Internet connection so it can accommodate your outgoing call. Other features, such as a full-featured firewall with reverse proxy, call accounting, and prearranged connection schedules, give the router more-advanced capabilities.
The Dual Analog Router performed well during our testing, reaching 168 Kbps with no trouble. The telecommuter feature was hard to get working, however, and the external serial port lacks ISDN support.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
If you want to get a small office online in a hurry, the Netopia R2121 Dual Analog Router will give you everything you need, in a single, easy-to-configure package.