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iBoss Home Parental Control Wireless-N router review: iBoss Home Parental Control Wireless-N router

iBoss Home Parental Control Wireless-N router

Dong Ngo
Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
6 min read

Priced at an affordable $40, the iBoss Home Parental Control Wireless-N is, however, not an affordable choice, thanks to its $59 annual cost that accrues after the first month of use. Over time, this fee could make it one of the most expensive Wireless-N routers on the market; and the fact that it lacks Gigabit Ethernet or support for USB printers makes it sting that much more. One saving grace is that it's the only residential wireless router that comes with a comprehensive parental control feature, allowing you to manage the Internet connection of each computer in the network.


iBoss Home Parental Control Wireless-N router

The Good

The iBoss Home Parental Control Wireless-N offers comprehensive parental control, stable performance, a responsive Web interface, and is housed in a compact design.

The Bad

The iBoss Home Parental Control Wireless-N's throughput speed and range could be better. It lacks both Gigabit Ethernet and USB support as well as features commonly found in other Wireless-N routers. It requires an annual fee to use.

The Bottom Line

The iBoss Home Parental Control Wireless-N router offers the most comprehensive tool to manage access to the Internet. Beyond that, it's a rather simple router that requires an annual subscription fee to operate, therefore holding appeal only for those who want complete control over a network's online activities.

Other than that, it's a low-end Wireless-N router that lacks networking features commonly found in other routers. If complete control over the network's Internet activities is a must, you should consider the iBoss. Otherwise, most other Wireless-N routers will likely offer better performance and features, and at better prices.

Design and ease of use
The iBoss router is designed simply. The device is housed in a box measuring 6.2 inches tall by 1 inch wide by 4.1 inches deep, which is about the size of a typical wireless router with two antennas.

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The antennas are located on the back of the router, close to the ports--four LAN ports and one WAN port. None of these is a Gigabit port; they are all regular 10/100Mbps ports, which is a disappointment, as this is a Wireless-N router, meaning its wireless speed is up to 300Mbps. Normally, for most network configuration and usage, we prefer routers to have faster wired speed than wireless speed.

Also on the back are the Wi-Fi Protected Setup button and the reset button. All ports and buttons on the router are clearly labeled, which is helpful. On the front, the router has indicator lights for power, wireless connection, Internet, and LAN connection.

The router comes in a Spartan package that includes the router itself, a network cable, and a manual booklet. There's no CD software; however, it was easy to set it up using the step-by-step instructions printed in its tiny manual.

Once the router is hooked up to a computer, you need to log into its Web interface to take advantage of the comprehensive parental control feature. By default, you can do this by pointing your browser to the address "" (without the quotes). Here you can also further customize the router's other limited amount of features.

While most other Wireless-N routers generally come with a parental control feature, also known as a "Web filter," the iBoss' version is by far the most comprehensive we've seen.

According to Phantom, the maker of the iBoss, the router has the same filtering engine found in corporate Web filters. This includes real-time URL filtering, deep packet inspection, layer 7 filtering, proxy detection, and Web 2.0 security, with complete control over instant messaging, file sharing, gaming, etc.

Using the Web interface we were able to either manage computers individually or put them in one of three groups. The router then filtered different content based on a long list of criteria. The nicest thing about the iBoss' content filtering is that it also supports user accounts. For example, if Jon's computer is blocked from google.com, when his computer accesses google.com the router will display a message that the site is blocked and will offer a way to temporarily log in as a different user. If this second user is not barred from google.com, the computer will have access to the site normally. This flexibility eliminates the need to readjust the filtering when you switch computers. User accounts can be created from within the iBoss' Web interface, and it supports the maximum of 15 different user accounts.

The router can record detailed logs of Internet activity. Also, there's a tamper log that stores any event such as when the unit is powered down, to ports being unplugged, or passwords failed. It features real-time URL updates, so when an uncategorized site is accessed through any iBoss router, the router pushes it to human categorizers. They review it, categorize it, and then push it back to all iBoss routers currently in use. We think this is what the $59 subscription pays for, but Phantom doesn't make this clear.

While the filtering worked well, we found that setting it up could be a daunting task, because there is such a huge number of options. For example, it has nine different ways to control Internet access, one of which is blocking specific Web site categories. If you pick this option, it has 31 categories to pick from and a few of them, such as "Dating and Personals" and "Friendship" or "Entertainment" and "Audi and Video," overlap. Most of all it's unclear what really constitutes a particular category; there's no description as to what's blocked in each category.

Once it was set up, however, we found that the iBoss offers the best Web-filtering feature we've seen in a router; but that alone is not worth paying $59 a year for.

The iBoss has support for Wi-Fi Protected Setup, a method that allows you to add computers to the secure wireless network at the press of a button. For wireless security, it offers both WEP and WPA encryption.

The only advanced networking feature it offers is Port Forwarding, which lets you map certain ports to certain computers in the network. That way you can set up special services, such as remote desktop or FTP server, to a particular computer.

The iBoss Home Parental Control Wireless-N is among the slowest Wireless-N routers we've ever reviewed.

In our throughput test, where the router was set up to show off its best performance, the iBoss scored 33.6Mpbs, just a little faster than our slowest performer, the Apple Time Capsule, which scored 32.2Mbps. At this speed, the iBoss takes about 2 minutes to finish transmitting 500MB of data over its wireless signal.

In the mixed-mode test, where the router was set to work with both Wireless-N clients and legacy Wireless-G clients at the same time, its score reduced to 31Mbps. This is a relatively small degradation and impressive, since most other routers usually fall a lot harder in the test. The Belkin N+ , for example, scored 55.44Mbps in the throughput test but only 36.16Mbps in the mixed-mode test.

In the range test, the iBoss registered 20.6Mbps; again, that's only a tad faster than the Apple Time Capsule's 20.3Mbps.

CNET Labs 2.4Ghz Wireless-N performance score
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Mixed Mode  
D-Link DIR-825
Belkin N+ Wireless Router
Linksys WRT320N
Linksys WRT400N
Linksys WRT610n
iBoss Home Parental Control Wireless-N
Apple Time Capsule

The iBoss' range was also one of the shortest among Wireless-N routers we've reviewed. In our testing facility, which is an office building and not optimized for range, the router's signal couldn't remain stable farther than about 210 feet, as opposed to 270 feet or longer in most Wireless-N routers.

Nonetheless, in our stress test, where we make the routers constantly transfer a large amount of data back and forth between different wireless clients for 48 hours, the iBoss was able to maintain heavy loads for the entire time without any hiccups.

Service and support
Phantom backs the iBoss Home Parental Control Wireless-N router with a one-year, limited warranty, which, while short, is standard for most new routers on the market. With an active subscription, however, the router can be replaced anytime for free. The Web site states that technical phone support is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, but we couldn't find the support phone number anywhere on the site. You can also access a knowledge base, firmware, and manual downloads, and you can submit online support tickets, on the Phantom Web site.


iBoss Home Parental Control Wireless-N router

Score Breakdown

Setup 6Features 7Performance 6Support 6
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