Maxon Ethermax review: Maxon Ethermax

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The Good Plug and play functionality. Huge coverage area. Decent wireless broadband speeds. Support for up multiple client PCs.

The Bad Some plans are very expensive. There's not much you can do if it doesn't work.

The Bottom Line There aren't many broadband solutions that work as simply and transparently as Maxon's Ethermax router, although you'd be wise to keep a careful eye on your usage patterns.

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8.0 Overall

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The Ethermax Router itself is a remarkably simple bit of equipment encased in white and silver plastic. A screw-on antennae attaches to one side -- Maxon claims it's compatible with other CDMA antennae, although we were unable to test this -- and the other side houses the proprietary power cable, a standard 10/100 network port, reset button and a diagnostic port. Ethernet and power cables are provided, although the diagnostic port is presumably for back to base repairs only; the closest you'll get to diagnosing issues with the Ethermax is via its Web interface. Data lights on the top of the router indicate the presence of wireless signal (although there's nothing to indicated if you're in an EVDO or CDMA situation), power to the modem and when you're sending and receiving data. As routers go, the EtherMax stacks up there as one of the simplest networking products we've ever seen.

The service that Maxon is selling is actually Telstra's CDMA/EVDO network, the same as used by Telstra's own Wireless broadband service. Telstra maintains a map of coverage areas for EVDO/CDMA, which you can find here.

Client setup of the Ethermax is done via resellers, most notably Telstra themselves. Our review unit came directly preconfigured, but Maxon representatives tell us you should be able to set up and purchase an Ethermax from a reseller with all the account details preconfigured as well.

Aside from connecting to the CDMA/EVDO network, the Ethermax itself can act as a router for up to 200 client connections, although you'd need additional hub-style hardware to enable this; the Ethermax itself has a single Ethernet port, after all. We're also not too sure about how well the spectrum would be shared among 200 computers, but that's really just minor quibbling.

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