A few months ago I reviewed the Wi-Fi Router application on the HTC HD2, which transforms your Windows Phone into a real MiFi !! Despite it is a great application to use on the road, I do miss some (advanced) router- and security functionality.
In this article I will put the Huawei B260 3G Gateway to the test, and will have and in-depth look at both the hardware and software of this advanced travel router. Only be looking at the box, my guess is that this product will be aimed at the more demanding professional who needs advanced routing functionality on the go. Let’s find out if there is some truth in this a-priori guess in the review below.
What is in the box of the Huawei B260 3G Gateway ?
In the picture above you can see an overview of the Huawei B260 3G Gateway box and its contents. At first there is of course the Huawei B260 3G Gateway, with on the right a stand to use the Huawei B260 3G Gateway in an upright position. You can easily click the stand and router together.
Furthermore you see in the upper left corner the power adapter unit for the Huawei 260 3G Gateway. The connector is very similar to what you often see on HP printers (at least both my HP Laserjet 1320, and HP PSC 2110 have this connector port). While this isn’t a big deal I hoped for some standardized power connector, like micro USB has become the standard power and sync port on smartphones.
Finally both a quick start guide and extensive user manual are included in the box. If you run into any problems, the user manual is well written and provides some valuable information and references. Is there anything more you would like to see included in the box ??
Hardware overview of Huawei B260 3G Gateway
I would like the start the harware overview of the Huawei B260 3G Gateway, with the bottom view of the device. The reason for this approach is obvious, because in the middle (below the silver bar) you can see the slot for your SIM card, which is critical to start the use of the Huawei B260 3G Gateway with.
The SIM slot is easy to access, and with a well balanced click you can insert to- and remove the SIM card from the Huawei B260 3G Gateway. Furthermore there is a graphical description on the router housing how to inset the SIM card.
Furthermore you can see two sets of slits on the left and on the right side of the picture above. One small vertical slit below the silver bar, and one wider horizontal slit above the silver bar. These slits are used for inserting the stand, if you would like to use the Huawei B260 3G Gateway in an upright position.
As you can see the silver bar in the middle of the side surface gives a great business finish to the Huawei B260 3G Gateway, at least that is my personal opinion. In the picture above, from the right sideview of the Huawei B260, you can see the Huawei brand engraved in the silver on the left of the router.
More on the right side you see a white insert in the silver bar, which is a panel with LED lights. This panel with LED lights gives you information about the status of both the Huawei B260 3G Gateway as well as the connection status !
The slits above the silver bar seem to be just for optional, finishing reasons. On the frontplate you can see the Huawei brand printed in black on the white housing, and a big power button in the top right corver of the face place. This button is very easy to access and find.
There is much to describe about the topview of the Huawei B260 3G Gateway. There are no buttons, connectors or ports on this surface of the device. However the left sideview with a large concentration of connectors and ports will make up for this !
In the picture above you can see a view from the left side of the Huawei B260 3G Gateway, and this is the most interesting surface from the perspective of connectors and ports.
At first you see a small black switch on the left, which can be used to switch between an internal- or external antenna. Right next to this small black switch you see the round connector for an external antenna (SMA-F). If you are in an area with minimal cellular coverage this might be a good option to go for.
One position more to the right you see the port for the power adapter, which is very similar to ports you can see on HP printers.
The second port from the right is the LAN port of the Huawei B260 3G Gateway. You can connect your notebook via an UTP cable to the router for easy configuring the router, or you can connect an external harddisk with LAN connection to the router.
The final port on the right is a RJ11 port to connect an analogue phoneset to the Huawei B260 3G Gateway. If you are working in a project team this might be a very usefull feature during meetings or conference calls. The only constraint of course is bandwidth and the strength of the cellular network.
Command and configuration shell on the Huawei B260 3G Gateway
In addition to good hardware a router needs also an easy to use but feature rich command shell. In this section I will provide a step-by-step overview and discuss the most important features of the firmware on which the Huawei B260 3G Gateway runs.
Like with almost every other router you can access the command shell by entering http://192.168.1.1 in your webbrowser. As you can see in the screenshot above a loginscreen is shown, with the remarkable fact that you can login as admin, or as a “normal” user.
If you are logged in on the command shell of the Huawei B260 3G Gateway, you can see the “frame” of the navigation menu on the left side, and the “reading pane” of the selected menu item on the right.
In the screenshot above is the item “Basic Status” selected from the navigation menu. As you can see a complete overview of the router basics is shown, like connection status, dns servers, ip adresses, etc. In addition to a normal router, for example my Linksys WRT54GS router, you can see the measurement parameters of the cellular data connection: (1) duration, (2) received and (3) sent.
Finally you can see the basic status information of the LAN connection as well as the WLAN connection on the Huawei B260 3G Gateway.
In the screenshot above, the second item of the navigation menu is shown: “Quick Setup”. When you logon to the command shell of the Huawei B260 3G Gateway for the first time, you are redirected to this screen. The Quick Setup menu item is in fact a setup-wizard which helps you to configure the Huawei B260 3G Gateway in a simple and userfriendly way.
The third item from the navigation menu is called “connection”, and in this part of the commandshell you can set-up the cellular data connection.
In the screenshot above you can see the connection status “connected” of the connection profile Vodafone Live!. Furthermore you can see that I have set-up the PPP Connection on the Huawei B260 3G Gateway to manual. This means that I can manually control the connection, using the silver button in the middle of the screen.
It is also possible to let the Huawei B260 3G Gateway automatically connect with the cellular data network, when a connected workstation or other device “asks” for sending or receiving data. However I personally prefer to have manual control, and configured a manual PPP connection (since I live near the border and want to avoid roaming). 🙂
In the screenshot above you can see an overview of sub-menu-items within the advanced settings from the navigation menu in the Huawei B260 3G Gateway. Like the name of this navigation menu already implies, it is meant to go beyond the basics of the quick setup and do some advanced configuration.
The advanced settings menu provides an overview of seven icons: (1) System, (2) SIM Settings, (3) Mobile Network Settings, (4) Dail-up Settings, (5) DHCP Settings, (6) Clip Settings, (7) WLAN Settings.
Via the SIM Settings icon for example, you are able to enable or disable the pincode on your SIM card. Especially if you are running the Huwaei B260 3G Gateway in the automatic connection mode, it is helpful to have the pincode on your SIM card disabled. In the Mobile Network Settings and Dail-up Settings you can change some advanced connection settings from your profile.
Within the DHCP Settings menu you can release the DHCP server and re-enable the DHCP server, similar as the normal routers. In the WLAN Settings menu, you are able to configure the WLAN security. I’ve setup a WPA2-TKIP+AES encryption, which is very similar to the set-up I do run on the Linksys WRT54GS router of my home network.
In the final menu item of the Huawei B260 3G Gateway, labelled security settings, you can manage the “real” router settings. In the overview you can see seven icons: (1) Firewall Switch, (2) LAN MAC Filter, (3) LAN IP Filter, (4) Virtual Servers, (5) DMZ Settings, (6) UPnP Settings, and (7) Remote Management.
With the firewall switch you can turn on/off the firewall in the software of the Huawei B260 3G Gateway. With the LAN MAC Filter and LAN IP Filter, it is possible to block unwanted devices to connect with the Huawei B260 3G Gateway. These security features are important, especially for corporate users !
With the virtual servers icon it is possible to set-up a virtual server, for example an FTP server. Or you can simply setup a scheme of routing tables for some of the applications you want to use on the road. As an example you could think about the corporate applications which can be accessed via a citrix client.
Finally you can configure remote management for the Huawei B260 3G Gateway, if for example someone from your companies IT deparment needs to change a setting in the router. In this sub-menu from the navigation menu, you can see a lot of familiar routing features from the normal Linksys WRT54GS router coming together.
In order to provide you an idea of both the hardware version of the Huwaei B260 3G Gateway as well as the firmware build and -version I have included the screenshot above. You can find this information via the “system icon” in the advanced settings from the navigation menu.
Bootloader version, Router software version, Modem software version: 636.11.00.07.106
Router hardware version, Modem hardware version: WLB1TIPU
The Huawei B260 3G Gateway is a very feature rich device, not only in terms of configurable options in the router’s firmware but also if you look at the possibility to connect external hardware like an external antenna or an analogue phoneset.
In a few bullets I would like to highlight the most important product features:
- A fully equiped wireless HSPA router;
- 3G frequency: 850/1900/2100 MHz;
- 1x LAN-port;
- External antenna connector (SMA-F);
- Switch for int./ext. antenna;
- RJ11 connector for analogue phoneset;
- Dimensions: 158 x 105 x 27 mm;
The dimensions of the Huawei B260 3G Gateway tend a little more towards the dimensions of a normal router, however you get a lot more features -certainly in terms of security- in comparison to the Wi-Fi router application on the HTC HD2.
I would also like to address a possible cost advantage if you compare the Huawei B260 3G Gateway combined with one data subscription (which let’s a team of three employees work) versus the alternative of three Option GlobeTrotter GT MAX HSUPA modem cards for three employees each having an own data subscription.
Finally I can think of scenario’s where the Huawei B260 3G Gateway is a must have piece of hardware. If you go on sailing hollidays in the Dutch inland waterways, and having no “fixed” broadband connection, the Huawei B260 3G Gateway solves the connectivity problem for your friends and family on the boat. 🙂
A special thank you to the Capestone team, for bringing this great highly functional product to my attention !