iiNet BoB wireless modem

iiNet customers who yearn for a simple networking life will do well out of BoB, although like most routers, it's not without its quirks.


8.2
CNET Rating
4.3
User Rating


Design

It's pretty rare that we come across a router design that's anything worth talking about. Most of them are plain creatures, and that's fine for a device that, frankly speaking, you want to spend as little time as possible actually looking at. If you're looking at it, then something has typically gone wrong, and that's not a "feature" that you really want out of a router.

iiNet's BoB is a little different, in that it's designed to be an object in view, by dint of it also acting as a DECT base station for its provided handset and up to four additional compatible handsets. As such, Blinkenlights are kept to a minimum, down the right-hand side of the router. A gap in the middle can either accommodate and charge a handset or be covered by a plastic flap. The side of the router houses two USB ports, while the rear is stacked with sockets. Four Ethernet, one phone, one PSTN fallover ports and an ADSL socket to be precise.

We do have to chuckle slightly at iiNet's description of BoB as having a "black premium glass look & feel". There's no glass here, just very shiny plastic that like all piano black plastic is the ideal way to leave your fingerprints for future generations to puzzle over. And while we're being picky, BoB's called BoB because it's "Broadband in a Box". Shouldn't that be BiaB? Our review sample turned up in two boxes, which only makes it worse, as we technically reviewed ... BiTB.

Features

BoB's an 802.11n router with an in-built ADSL2+ modem. To be specific, it's a Belkin modem/router, with shared branding between iiNet and Belkin. Wireless support is in the 2.4GHz range only, and we were rather surprised when checking BoB's interface to discover that it's a dual-radio router. Not a dual-band router, however, which is what we'd expect. Instead of getting a 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio, you instead get two 2.4GHz radios, one of which is disabled by default. It's a puzzling design inclusion, although if you left BoB to its own devices, you'd never even know that it was there.

BoB's also VoIP capable with PSTN passthrough, and up to two accounts can be configured, although only via one provider. Not surprisingly, iiNet would prefer that you choose it as the provider. BoB's Ethernet ports are only 10/100 rather than gigabit, which we might reasonably expect at this asking price. To be fair, though, BoB's target market probably won't care. What may entice them are the two USB ports on the side. One's a shared storage and 3G USB modem port, although the initial release of BoB doesn't have the 3G-capable firmware installed. The other port is solely for USB charging of compatible gadgets. Not a killer feature, but a potentially quite handy one.

Performance

The normal state of affairs for any "in a box" product is that they come with everything needed and a particular emphasis on easy set-up. That's exactly the case with BoB, and to its credit when we plugged it into an iiNet ADSL account it quickly synchronised, grabbed our account details and had broadband up and running with exactly zero user input. There is something attractive about not having to remember account names, passwords, default MTU settings and all the other ephemera of networking lore, although whether that's worth AU$369 of your money is debatable, as it was with Engin's OneHub.

The BoB DECT handset's value isn't debatable. It's ordinary at best, and awful in some circumstances. We hit a lot of call interference in our testing, and when we connected up some third-party DECT handsets, things got a lot worse. We couldn't pick up from the third-party handsets, even though they were ringing. If an incoming call was terminated at the calling side, the BoB handset would ring until it was picked up from its charging cradle, even though the call was dead. Whether that's the fault of the alternate handsets or BoB we can't entirely say, but it's not impressive. The handsets themselves have plain screens and menus, although you do get an in-built stopwatch on each phone if that impresses you.

We ran BoB through our standard set of wireless signal strength and throughput tests, both with and without the secondary 2.4GHz network enabled. To our surprise, there was a negligible difference in both signal and throughput in either case. Our test figures represent a single antenna installation, as that's what you'd get out of the box.

Signal strength: 2.4GHz

Distance from router
5m
15m (minor walls)
15m (multiple walls)
iiNet BoB 90% 55% 54%
NetComm 3G18Wn 83% 59% 59%
Belkin N+ Wireless Router 88% 63% 62%
Edimax nMax AR-7265Wn 77% 58% 55%
NetComm NP802n 79% 49% 52%
Linksys WRT610N 79% 50% 53%
Netgear WNDR3300 85% 44% 45%
Netgear WNHDEB111 84% 50% 55%
Linksys WAG160N 70% 53% 48%
Billion BiPAC 7300N 75% 59% 54%
Conceptronic 300Mbps 92% 62% 60%

BoB performed well at close range and a little worse than comparable 2.4GHz routers in our test environment. As always, figures may vary depending on the environment in which you're running BoB.

Throughput: 2.4GHz

Distance between PCs
2m, no barriers
20m, multiple walls
iiNet BoB 21.5Mbps 21.5Mbps
NetComm 3G18Wn 27.6Mbps 27.6Mbps
Belkin N+ Wireless Router 31.75Mbps 31.35Mbps
Edimax nMax AR-7265Wn 2.95Mbps 3.09Mbps
NetComm NP802n 18.2Mbps 16.4Mbps
Linksys WRT610N 22.3Mbps 7.91Mbps
Netgear WNDR3300 11.8Mbps 9.81Mbps
Netgear WNHDEB111 18.4Mbps 16.7Mbps
Linksys WAG160N 19.8Mbps 15.2Mbps
Billion BiPAC 7300N 21Mbps 13.3Mbps
Conceptronic 300Mbps 15Mbps 7.7Mbps

BoB's throughput figures weren't the worst we've seen, and neither were they the greatest. Predictably, you won't see anything like the claimed "300Mbps" speeds that iiNet's breathy BoB FAQ promises. We're used to 802.11n failing to come close to the hype in real tests, but that doesn't make it acceptable, merely inevitable.

BoB's target market are people who just want to get on with using their broadband connections rather than fiddling around with router settings, and on that score it works quite well. The router feature set is pretty impressive, and those who do want to tinker under the hood will find a surprising number of unlockable features.

Our only real caveat with BoB is the pricing and the handsets. The handsets are ordinary at best, and for a premium priced product that's not a good state of affairs. At AU$369 for a 2.4GHz-only router with 10/100 ports, BoB's also not cheap, so you do pay a premium for the convenience of easy installation.



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RudyB1 Facebook
1
Rating
 

"Stay away from Black BoB"

RudyB1 posted a review   

The Good:If working,just mediocre

The Bad:The phone is hopeless modem unreliable overheated

Cheap quality unreliable,even IInet wil not stand behind this product

captain crayfish
8
Rating
 

"I love the unit."

captain crayfish posted a review   
New Zealand

The Good:Performs well and backup is great

The Bad:Nothing really

I was really reticent to go VOIP initially but obtained a "BOB lite" (supplied as "Orcon Genius" here in NZ) free with ADSL2

gumtree2012
1
Rating
 

"bad"

gumtree2012 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:northing

The Bad:everything

worst and most ridiculous service and handset ever!!! they were even going to credit some money to my account and let us to buy a new handset! By the way, I'm talking about a brand new product they just sent me which has never worked

MonkeyBoy
3
Rating
 

"Bearable as a wireless router, frustrating as a phone"

MonkeyBoy posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Customer service....they have a lot of experience

The Bad:70% of it

Wireless router component
Wireless drops out daily on windows, mac, ipad and android. Turn off and on your devices' wireless usually solves this. Sometimes necessary to turn off, unplug, replug and turn on BoB on average once a month when above doesn't work.

Initial setup was easy, plug in and it goes to work after several minutes of updates.
For tech-no-ideas phone techs will walk you through password protection etc

Wireless range and signal strength is on par with the article above

Phone component
Almost useless
Battery power of fully charged handset maybe 20 mins talk-time (even after change of batteries sent by iinet during their battery recall period)
Frequent problems dialling any number, just silence, have to redial until you get a ringtone on almost every phone-call. Sometimes calls drop out but maybe network issue.

Owned 2 years with full unit replacement once. Would not upgrading to other BoB products where your unit settings are changed and tweaked by isp in the background in your best interest of course.....

 

"Worst piece of hardware ever"

sungam posted a comment   

The Good:It's shiny and has blue led's

The Bad:Everything about it, ecept for the cool blue led's

I first got the bob modem when iinet started giving em away for free about a month ago, mainly for the adsl 2 support. My old Netgear DG834G router/modem was only adls 1 compliant, maxed out at around 1.7mb/sec.

So I tested the bob and it could only get around 1.8-1.9mb.sec... On 24mbit plan???

My first bob had wifi troubles, specifically it wouldn't allow connections at all. I read up on it, and suggested advice was upgrade firmware.

I did this and the modem stopped working completely, limited or no connectivity when connecting via lan.

I was sent a second one, this one worked fine for a few days, but now at least 4-5 times a day it decides to reset it self.

Now I have just converted back to my 7 year old Netgear DG834 rev.1 and put the bob back into its box to gather dust in the garage.

Never had 1 single problem with my Netgear for over 7 years.

BoB is crap, period.

nixn
1
Rating
 

nixn posted a review   

The Good:free return postage when it fails to work, which it will.

The Bad:Everything about it.

Absolutely horrendous piece of equipment, quite literally the dictionary definition of incompetence.

Constant dropouts, massive overheating, and getting VOIP to actually work is an exercise in pain and futility.

However, the unit's, by default, are faulty. Had heard many bad reviews about it beforehand, but considering Iinet only supplies 2 modems, this and the BoB Lite, and signing a 24 month contract, figured I would at least give it a shot. Boy, do I feel like a fool.

1st unit lasted 3 days with all the above mentioned problems before it just turned itself off intermittently. Walk out of room, come back in and modem is off. Figured I got the 'needle in the haystack' ie; one in a million faulty defective unit. Requested replacement and got it within 4 working days. That one lasted 2 days, then when I rebooted modem, failed to turn back on ... yet another brick/paperweight. Called support, got refund ( on the wrong modem no less ). Refuse to purchase any more equipment from Iinet, this is what you get for 'inhouse' tech.

Only good thing was free return postage, I'll be damned if I was going to pay for that. Absolutely pathetic. Have bought Netgear since, no problems going on 2 months. STAY AWAY!! You've been warned. Just wish this website allowed a score of 0, a minimum score of 1 does this modem justice it doesn't deserve.

Babak
3
Rating
 

Babak posted a review   

The Good:Good looking, no Telstra fee

The Bad:No VPN, weak wireless

This device is not provided for professional and advanced users. It's unbelievable for me that this modem-router does not support VPN passthrou function which you can find in many cheaper devices. So after using BoB I lost my VPN connections and there is no support and solution for it nor in iiNet website neither in Belkin one.
If you are simple user go for it, but if you are using Internet for some real IT tasks just forget about it, this is not a real modem-router, it's a toy!

 

hughberg posted a reply   
Australia

Hey,
So if i was a first time laptop owner who wanted to get naked dsl to do my studies and download music and movies n surf the net, it would be able to handle that kinda action???


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User Reviews / Comments  iiNet BoB wireless modem

  • RudyB1

    RudyB1

    Rating1

    "Cheap quality unreliable,even IInet wil not stand behind this product"

  • captain crayfish

    captain crayfish

    Rating8

    "I was really reticent to go VOIP initially but obtained a "BOB lite" (supplied as "Orcon Genius" here in NZ) free with ADSL2"

  • gumtree2012

    gumtree2012

    Rating1

    "worst and most ridiculous service and handset ever!!! they were even going to credit some money to my account and let us to buy a new handset! By the way, I'm talking about a brand new product they..."

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