Tuesday, September 26, 2006

La Fonera Unboxed

Well, that was quick. I received my La Fonera router from FON yesterday, and have taken shots of everything for you all to check out. Even though the pictures speak for themselves, my quick review will hopefully answer any questions that remain about the device and its features. So let's get started...

The box art is clean and simple...

Everything's packaged nice and neat...

Contents include the router La Fonera, power supply, flat CAT5 cable [6 ft.], quick installation guide, and software CD. [There was supposed to be two FON stickers, but they somehow failed to make it into my kit]

The CD contains the quick installation guide [pdf] and a [2 year] warranty statement.

As you can see, the antenna is the standard detachable type. [Someone was bound to ask about it]

Here's a size comparison of the access point next to the Nokia 770. [really small]

Here's an "in-the-hand" view to further show how small it is. [I think I have average size hands]

Okay, on to the main review...

Everything was pretty simple to set up. I connected it to our Linksys Compact Wireless-G Broadband Router without a hitch. I had to tweak a few security settings to get it recognized by the FON service, but nothing too heavy. The web-based configuration is clean and allows you to change various settings, but it's just as easy to change settings from the FON website. The firmware version is 0.7.0 r2 for those wanting to know.

I was surprised at the signal range of the little router. It's a bit stronger than the Linksys router that has an external antenna. The new FON router sports dual SSID and uses WPA for strong wireless encryption for the private "MyPlace" side of things and an unsecured "FON_AP" on the public access point side. The router itself is 802.11b/g at 2.4 GHz.

The people at FON might have a winner on their hands with this little guy. The build quality is good, it's simple to set up, and is amazingly compact considering it's more like two access points for a fraction of the price for just one [$5 + tax and shipping]. They may not sell a whole lot of these things as secondary wireless solutions for those that already have a wireless router, but they may have a potential market with wired network owners and small to medium sized business owners that want provide yet another service from their offerings. I could also see ISPs bundling these into their services as well. With all that said, I think FON did it right.

Well, that about covers it. All questions about the kit are welcome.

Links: [digg story]

14 Comments:

At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the informations :)

what voltage comes out of the power-supply? 12 Volts DC ?

greetings from Northern-Germany
(Im waiting for my LaFonera...)

, Dietmar, DL4HAO

 
At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Steve Ross said...

Thanks for the review. I've been playing with the prototype for a few weeks and I was thrilled with the range. Glad to hear others are having the same experience!

power supply is 5V

 
At 10:53 PM, Blogger Derek_Coleman said...

Yeah, it's 5 Volts. I haven't hooked a high gain antenna up to it yet, but I bet it would probably boost the already strong signal for even more area coverage.

 
At 6:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve, Derek,

thank you ...

(... still waiting for my LaFonera)

, Dietmar, DL4HAO

 
At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

I want to know when you ordered?. I ordered it on september 17th and didn't receive it till now. Is it came through fedEx?.

Thanks
ide

 
At 12:03 PM, Blogger Derek_Coleman said...

My order was placed on September 19th, and I recieved it on the 25th [via FedEx Ground]. It was unexpected, because I got an email from FON on the 25th stating there being delays and that delayed shipments would be sent between October 3rd and 5th.

 
At 10:22 PM, Blogger Folklife said...

Great! So how do I generate clients (aliens) to me use my new wifi La Fonara internet access point?

 
At 11:16 PM, Blogger Derek_Coleman said...

@ Folklife

If you're asking how to how to announce that you are offering wifi, you can use your FON Access Portal to save the location of your router, or if you wanted you could tell your neighbors, friends, put out an ad, etc.

 
At 4:13 PM, Blogger Folklife said...

Thabks, Derrick. Does La Donera iffer signs I can put in my store window? Also, what type (size?) external antenna can I use for greater range? We are in the boondocks here.
Folklife

 
At 7:24 PM, Blogger Derek_Coleman said...

Well, as I said in my post, the router is supposed to come with two FON stickers, but I doubt they would be large enough to use in advertising your La Fonera router. FON doesn't appear to have any signs that I know of, but it might be worth asking some one there about it.

As for external antennas, there are a lot of options. Here is the one I am using. it pretty much doubles my range, and the signal is much stronger. There are some others that are better and hence more expensive: [1] [2]

I hope this helps.

- Derek

 
At 5:15 AM, Blogger Jope said...

I got the stickers, the bigger one is the size of a CD, the smaller one is the size of a matchbox..

The bigger one is well big enough to be plastered to a front door of a café, the smaller one could be stuck to the cash register or the counter near it..

 
At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, just a quick question, in ur thing u said u connected it to ur linksys router...i thought this was a router? does this mean if i got this i would have to get another router to connect my laptop etc to it as well as a skype wifi phone? thanks

 
At 10:53 AM, Blogger Derek_Coleman said...

Yes, it is a standalone router. You don't need a second separate router to use it unless you have some "wired" computers that you need to connect to the network. As long as all the devices/computers you want to connect to are wifi enabled, La Fonera router should be all you need. I just happened to have (and need) another router for my network for the computers that are not wireless.

Hope that helps, have fun with FON. :)

 
At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah i see, jus got a bit confused. i saw it with a skype wifi phone on the skype site n im considerin getting it as i would also need a router for when i move in with my gf in a few months. so this will be able to connect that phone, my laptop, her computer and my wii. cheers for the help :-)

 

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