* Prices may differ from that shown
Bt Total Broadband Equipment Home Hub Review After the lovely comments I had for my Bt Total Broadband review (if you havent read it, check it out and read it before reading this one) I thought I would give a bit more detail on the actual equipment side of the service. Bt Total Broadband comes with free equipment if you order it online and with Option 2 this means a Home Hub, and with Option 3, you get the Home Hub, plus a phone for use with the free service Broadband Talk, which is VOIP basically where you can make phone calls over the internet and still use your broadband and still use your home phone. Very clever. WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE? The Home Hub is white, very sleek and stylish and looks quite like Apple equipment, until you see the little coloured world that is the BT logo now. DIMENSIONS 6.5cm (d) x 19.4cm (w) 23cm (h) Its quite slender width-ways, and not very heavy at all, but tall, so you have to think about where it will go to be out of the way. Compared with my old router ( a BT Voyager 205) its about twice the size, but it does a much better job so I dont hold that against it!!! The Hubs ports are hidden away at the back, behind a panel that sort of flips outwards to reveal colour coded ports. All the cables that come with the Hub are colour coded too, so it makes it extremely easy to set up, even if youre a computer novice. If you are using wires/cables to connect your Home Hub, you need to site it close to your computer as well as a power point and a telephone point. If youre using it wirelessly, Bt tell you to put it quite central in your home, so that the coverage is good, and not near a microwave, fridge or metal surface, as this can apparently interfere with the wireless signal. SO WHATS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE HOME HUB AND OTHER ROUTERS? Well, routers are generally designed to connect your broadband up to a local network so basically if you have more than one pc/laptop/games console then they all work on the same broadband connection via the router, and this can be wireless or wired or a combination of both. The Bt Home Hub does all this but it has the capability to do much more, and this is where I feel the major differences come into play. With your Home Hub, you can use the free broadband talk system, giving you free evening and weekend calls over the internet the Hub supports this with integral DECT capability, and it also supports WIDEBAND otherwise known as High Definition Sound basically really good quality of sound in your phone calls no whirring noises or crackles in the line. Perfect! You can use up to 5 phone handsets on this router for your free calls. The Home Hub supports Bt Fusion, which I dont have but my best mate does from what I gather, its basically a mobile phone that links into your hub when youre at home and gives you your phone calls over the mobile at landline prices, and because its connecting the call via the internet, the reception is really good so its great if you have really poor reception at home. The Home Hub also supports Bt Video Phone, where if you have a webcam, you can make video conference calls (very posh!) and Bt Softphone, which turns your Windows pc into a phone - cool or what?! You just have to have a headset and then you can make and recieve calls online. I haven't used this but I've seen it working, and it's pretty cool - you get a call waiting message if you're on the phone and someone's trying to get through and it tells you when you've missed a call as well. The Hub can be remotely upgraded, which means if something new comes out, you can use it straight away without having to wait for an engineer to come out and twiddle with your bits!!! So the whole idea of Bt doing TV, which is currently being advertised as BT VISION, means that Ill get that without any hassle when they start to sell it. Other stuff you can use with it is Bt Openzone where you can use the internet at hotspots and it has a flip out connection for a cordless phone so if you get , or upgrade to Option 3 (like me) you get the Hub phone, or if not, you can just use another phone for your free calls. WHAT YOU GET WITH THE PACK In your pack you get the Home Hub (and phone if on Option 3), a welcome pack, set-up guide, a user guide and an installation CD, which is cool and talks to you to tell you what to do next. You also get a power cable, usb cable ethernet cable, broadband cable and a converter. All the sockets and cables are colour-coded so its pretty impossible to set up wrong! The hub has 1 usb port and 2 ethernet ports, and the maximum number of devices you can connect at any one time is 15. The Hub will actually run over 200, but Bt only recommend up to 15. Still, 15 pcs, laptops, whatever - that is a lot - more than most households have anyway! The support number is also printed on the welcome pack 0845 600 7030 or theres online help at http://www.bt.com/broadband/help. You can also download the User guide to have a look at: http://www.bt.com/customerservices/userguides.jsp SECURITY Probably the biggest consideration when going online with broadband. You have to make sure you are adequately protected from Identity theft, viruses and bugs and hackers. The good thing about the Home Hub is that it is secure to the max. Up until a couple of years ago, a lot of people, myself included, really worried about the security aspect of going wireless. The idea that some random stranger in a fancy car with their laptop propped on the steering wheel could park outside my house and tap into my wireless broadband connection free gratis and for nowt, really freaked me out. Of course now I understand how it all works and it bothers me not, because I know with my equipment, it just cant happen! The Hub has something called WEP, which stands for WIRED EQUIVELANT PRIVACY, and its a security system which uses a series of keys (special codes) on either side of a wireless transmittion to keep all the data secure. So only people who know your individual WEP key can use your broadband. (The WEP key is individual to the Hub and its printed on the bottom of your hub on a little sticker) It also has something called WPA-PSK which is another security system for wireless networks, and TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol) which basically changes the Keys at a preset time, making it very, very, VERY hard for anyone to guess it/work it out and therefore gain access to your machine. Clever, eh? So as far as security, there just isnt an issue you still need your firewall and antivirus, and its a really good idea to read up on Identity theft, and make sure you know the deal with secure sites and how to recognise them, but otherwise you dont need to worry! In short, this piece of kit is great. I know its going to save me money in the future as its already designed for upcoming changes, and I know Im not going to have to keep updating it every time I want a new product or service from Bt, which is great. It looks lovely, very modern and stylish, and I find on a house holding note that white doesnt show up dust anywhere near as much as black did! Its light, compact, secure and I like it. I hope this helps, and thanks so much for reading!!!! Kate.