I’ve been working as a technology consultant with internet, telephony, mobility, security, and server applications for the better part of ten years. In that time, I’ve worked with many different products and provided those products to my customers. I have frequently searched for the best products in any given field and my thoughts have changed a great deal in that time. As a consultant, I am always looking for products with great features, performance, and stability.
I have deployed Cisco gear for nearly all of my time as a consultant. I have found their equipment to be a double edged sword. It is always expensive, often difficult to configure, their web interfaces and GUI tools are just plain awful, and it is some of the best and most powerful equipment available.
While I still use Cisco equipment out of necessity, I have been looking for excellent alternatives out there for quite some time. I have deployed a number of m0n0wall systems in the field with excellent results but working with wireless cards is less than ideal. I have tried to like pfSense but I just struggle to find its complicated interface pleasing.
I did not want to get too locked into any of the other proprietary systems out there either since Cisco is exactly that. I have used and continue to use OpenBSD extensively as my almost exclusive server platform and firewall platform but it is not a good fit when someone wants an integrated solution.
Then along came CradlePoint. I knew about their products from way back when I originally built my first OpenBSD and Linux-based EVDO routers. Right about the time I was experimenting with these devices, CradlePoint released their PHS300 device that did basically everything I was manually doing with my complicated and slow homemade systems. On top of everything else, it had a battery. It was and still is an impressive device.
A couple years later, I wanted to put 3G access into our Dodge Sprinter so we could work on projects during our frequent 400 mile trips. I settled on the MBR800 since I was planning to use a separate wireless access point. It worked well but my whole system was overly complicated and the trips became less frequent.
Another year went by and I started looking at CradlePoint routers again. This time I bought the CTR350, the predecessor to the current CTR35. This device was a better fit for what I needed. I needed a LAN ethernet port and WiFi while the PHS300 only had WiFi.
In December of last year, I purchased the CTR500. This device was even better than the CTR350. It had better range, supported more modems, and provided 4G support. About the same time, I purchased the Sprint U600 for mobile access using both 3G (primarily) and 4G WiMAX. It was actually investigating the U600 that caused me to purchase the CTR500.
Fast forward another month to January. By this time, I had moved back into Southern California from a year long stint in another state. The CTR35 was released in January and I purchased one in February. The draw for this device was that it was based on a new NetBSD-based architecture and, for the first time in a CradlePoint mobile router, supported 802.11n and WiFi-as-WAN.
This started the ball rolling. The MBR1400 was released a few months later, then came the MBR95, and finally the CBR400 and CBR450 models. I have since sold the CTR350 and CTR500 since the new NetBSD-based platform is so much more capable.
CradlePoint is on the right track with their products. I can now unequivocally recommend the MBR1400 as the best SMB and Enterprise branch office router available anywhere near its price point. My upcoming review of the MBR1400 will cover many different use scenarios including using the MC100W business grade WiMAX modem as your primary internet connection. I am updating the review with the new features in the 3.3.0 firmware release and, once again, am very, very impressed.
The newest releases in their lineup, the IBR600 and IBR650, again show how CradlePoint is innovating with great products. After I complete the reviews of the MBR1400, MC100W, and MBR95, I will be reviewing one or both of the CBR400 and CBR450. I am also looking forward to the future release of a business grade 4G LTE modem to go along with the MC100W, MC100E-VZ, and MC100E-SP models.
I now recommend the MBR95 for the majority of my small business clients, whether at home or at work. Even if you have no need for a cellular data connection, the MBR95 makes an excellent general purpose router. More advanced needs? Out comes the MBR1400. The stability of the NetBSD platform tied to the excellent web interface and great feature set make these routers the best I have come across.
I am looking forward to using CradlePoint products in the offices of many of my clients as well as an integral part of some special development work we are doing. Keep up the good work CradlePoint! Lots of us are looking forward to what comes next. For more information on CradlePoint and its products, please visit the CradlePoint web site.