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Engin OneHub ST790 review: Engin oneHub ST790

Engin's oneHub benefits from simplicity, but also suffers from it in comparison to other all-in-one router/VoIP solutions.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
3 min read

Design

Engin's oneHub is a colossus amongst routers. Sure, there's an argument that a device that combines ADSL2+ modem, wireless router and cordless phone hub is going to need to take up some space, but the oneHub's actual hub is still pretty big by anyone's estimates.

5.9

Engin OneHub ST790

The Good

Simple set-up for engin customers. Comes with handset. PSTN pass-through. Works with non-engin broadband.

The Bad

Router is physically huge. Many router functions are locked down or obscure. Only two Ethernet ports. 802.11b/g only. Poor signal throughput.

The Bottom Line

Engin's oneHub benefits from simplicity, but also suffers from it in comparison to other all-in-one router/VoIP solutions.

When you first unpack the oneHub, a small set-up poster falls on your lap. It's to engin's credit that they do live up to the simplicity tag with this poster, especially if you're an engin ADSL2+ customer. You don't have to do much more than connect up the oneHub to your phone and ADSL2+ lines and power on the case. Engin will permit non-engin ADSL2+ customers to use the oneHub, although you'll have to do a touch of manual configuration via oneHub's web interface.

The actual modem/router is, as noted, large, with default lights for its functions running along the top. The rear houses a clipped in cover that goes over the unit's ports. Aside from phone and ADSL, you also get two 10/100 Ethernet ports, and rubber-sealed USB type A and B ports, which were non-functional on our review model.

Along with the router, engin also supplies a single wireless Thomson handset which connects wirelessly to the oneHub. Additional handsets may be purchased and synchronisation with the oneHub was, in our tests, immediate.

Features

So far, so good on the simplicity front. However, there are some downsides. The oneHub is only an 802.11b/g capable router, for a start. That's exacerbated by the relative dearth of Ethernet ports available on the rear of the unit, a choice made all the more baffling by the non-functional USB ports.

If you're the tinkering type, you won't be all that fond of the oneHub either, as, similar to many locked-down provider-specific units, many key router functions aren't available from the web interface. If you were taking on the oneHub with an engin 24-month ADSL2+ contract (where they'll only charge you AU$99) this would be somewhat understandable — but for a unit that they will sell at full price, it's much less compelling. As an example, the default IP address for the router is set, and we couldn't find any way of changing it short of — from what we could research using the OEM's original notes on this router model — using a CLI approach to manually talk to the router, a step that's going to be way above the comfort level of the oneHub's audience.

One plus with the oneHub is that it ships with WPA security pre-enabled and printed on the side of the router, and you're advised to change it as soon as you've finished set-up.

Performance

On the phone handset side, the oneHub's single supplied handset worked quite well. In common with many cheaper cordless handsets, the buttons are squishy and the screen is quite indistinct, but as a basic telephony tool there's nothing wrong with it.

On the network side, we had a few more problems. At first, we couldn't get the oneHub to activate its Ethernet ports, something that was only fixed with a reboot. With 802.11b/g only on-board, wireless signal was less than solid but not surprising in our test environment. Throughput was a little higher than we've seen from many 802.11g routers, but still fell predictably low at distance, with an average of 8Mbps real-time throughput on a file copy test.

There's clearly a market for a product like the oneHub. If you're an engin customer and planning to be one for some time, the AU$99 two-year contract isn't a terrible price to pay for the convenience of the model. At the same time, the truly difficult interface, locked down nature of the router and limitations of 802.11g may mean that in two years time, you'll feel solidly left behind.