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Nokia IP55 Review

Introduction

At first glance the Nokia IP55 looks like a nice piece of kit, an ADSL router with a 10/100Mbps 4 port Hub built in, an in built DHCP server, to allow for easy LAN set up, a DNS server with a cache and a Check Point Firewall for extra security. Nokia here is mainly touting the business market, and from the literature I have managed to get hold of, they have obviously envisaged this piece of equipment being the centre piece of a small office network.

The review kit that I received came with a UTP patch cable (2m long), an RJ11 ADSL connection cable, and of course a power cable and 12V DC transformer. No documentation was provided, bar a quick set up sheet, sent by email, and no ADSL filter, we have been informed that ITChest, who provided us with the review router, will now provide an ADSL filter with the router to ease wires only installation. Although no other documentation was provided, a link to the manual for the Webramp 600i was sent to us, which contains the documentation for all of the features of the IP55 except for the Check Point Firewall. We have been informed that Nokia documentation will actually be included if you buy the router, although all the additional material on the Check Point Firewall is not included in this manual, as the material for it is produced by Check Point themselves. Additionally we have been informed that a CD will also be provided with the router, containing configuration scripts and an update server programme.

Setting Up

Initial set-up of the IP55 proved simple enough, with the quick set-up sheet. This contains all the information you need to get into your IP55 immediately. Merely type in the default IP address of the router into your browser and you come directly to the IP55’s web interface. Simply click on the Express Internet button, and fill in the details in a wizard style, and by the end of it, your connection should be ready to go.


Nokia IP55 Web Interface - Setup Page

This much is simple enough, and the web interface is certainly adequate to the task of this Express Internet style wizard. However, for almost all its other functions it appears to be heinously inadequate for proper performance. When navigating the web interface for router configuration, the pages often load slowly, not a problem I would have imagined between a high spec computer and a router both connected via 100Mbps Ethernet. Furthermore, the event log, useful when attempting to determine the exact nature and cause of problems, often fails to refresh correctly and also lacks a time index. The event log itself is time indexed, and this is accessible via the telnet interface, but it does beg the question as to why people using the web interface should be so unconcerned over time, maybe for the same reason Nokia has decided they should be unconcerned about the time taken for the pages to load.

Further niggles with the web interface arise when attempts are made to alter individual ADSL connection and router settings via their “Advanced” menu, whilst some settings are granted their own individual pages, accessible through the slowly loading menus, others are only accessible in a similar wizard style, albeit a shorter one, making the user wade through unnecessary pages in order to access the settings he or she wishes to alter. Admittedly all these settings are readily, and quickly, available via telnet or console configuration, but a web interface is meant to ease use, not inhibit it.

There are also outright problems with the web interface. For various options there are check boxes to activate or deactivate various features, for example to enable IP routing for the IP filter to be active requires a check box, if one then attempts to disable IP routing to take it back to NAT, it is simply not possible to do. Fortunately this particular setting is configurable via another menu, however this is not the case for other checkbox settings, which have led me to have to reset the router to factory settings and reconfigure.

Features

The DHCP server and DNS Server are both easy to configure, and entirely self explanatory, all properly explained in the manual, and for the SNMP functionality, to monitor the activity of the router across a network, configuration is also adequately explained in the available documentation. The set up for accessing local servers from the Internet and setting up a “visible computer” are also fairly intuitive, and explained properly in the manual. Additionally, the IP55 provides support for specific Internet applications, to allow externally initiated TCP connections to be routed through. The set up for this is also completely explained in the manual.

The Internet backup via modem is also easy to configure, although I did not have an external modem available to test it, but there are no unusual settings that would not be required by any standard modem set up.

The IP55 has packet filtering, to allow you to specify IP addresses on your network that cannot be accessed from outside and vice versa. You can specify ports, port ranges and IP addresses and subnet masks, the configuration here is simple enough and fairly self explanatory, and does not suffer heavily from the need to wade through unnecessary information that tends to affect other sections of the interface.


Nokia IP55 Web Interface - The 'Local Configuration' page provides access to the IP55s features and settings

The Check Point Firewall, however, proved difficult to navigate, lacking any documentation referring to it, I was unable to determine exactly how one sets up servers to act as the management policy servers, and logging servers – of which one can set up two of each for the firewall. An extensive search on Nokia’s own website has yielded no clues, and I can only hope the actual Nokia documentation provides some hints as to how this can be achieved. By default, the Nokia IP55 is insecure, exposing both telnet and the web interface to the outside world. It is important to set a password to prevent unauthorised access to your router. It's worrying that Nokia consider it to be acceptable to produce a product of this nature which will be used by many unsuspecting customers. The packet filter can be used to cut off access to these services from the outside.

It must be admitted at this point that the firmware version of the router sent for review is only 1.00.00, i.e. no firmware update has been made to this router. Perhaps I should not so harshly judge the web interface then, I hear you cry? Well I did consider that these niggles – and blatant flaws – might have been solved in some later firmware release, but unfortunately, much like the documentation for the IP55, any mention of firmware updates – or the magical TFTP server software that one can use to do them – has somehow evaded the Nokia website. Even after extensive site searching, the only mention of the IP55 on the website is a technical sheet with a minimal technical specification and glossy photographs of the IP55. Fortunately, the good people at ITchest.co.uk, who provided us with the router for this review, have placed the TFTP server on their website for download, along with some configuration scripts for various common modes of operation for the router, these scripts and the server will also be provided with the router from 19th August. Having said this, however, there are currently no firmware updates available for the router, and I can only hope that the interface will be modified in any upcoming update.

In use the IP55 is a fairly capable router, downloads of around 50-60KB/sec are usual, and ping times on online games are, with no other Internet traffic through the router, around 30-40ms.


Nokia IP55 Web Interface - ADSL Line Status Page

Verdict

Although the IP55 is impressively specified, with a prestigious Check Point Firewall built in, the 10/100Mbps in built 4 port hub, DHCP server and DNS caching, it is poorly let down by the implementation. The web interface is clunky, slow and very often frustrating; in my use of it, it also sometimes fails to register line timeouts, and hence leaves the connection off, when left on overnight. Once set up and active, the router does admittedly work, but getting there should be easier and much less frustrating, especially as this appears to be aimed at the small business/home market, where a vast amount of technical expertise should not be expected. The IP55 is an effective router, let down by its limited support from Nokia and poor interface implementation.


Prices: £159 – Nokia IP55
Prices listed above are excluding postage and VAT.
 
Links: Nokia IP55 (Nokia Website)
Nokia IP55 at ITchest.co.uk
 
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The contents of this review should not be relied upon in making a purchasing decision—You should always discuss your requirements with your service provider and hardware supplier.