PepLink SURF SOHO Router Review
A bit of my background. For almost 20 years I specialized in the legal and medical vertical markets supporting turn-key networks that spanned states and required high end VPN connections etc from about 1995-2012 when I was able to sell and retire from the IT Industry. We were highly involved connecting medical offices through VPNs using multiple routers and providing high availability to tablets and other medical devices throughout the clinics and hospitals over a 5 state area.. You have no idea how happy I am no longer be in that field… However, it gave me a lot of knowledge that I don’t use that can hopefully benefit you guys.
First Impressions - New PepLink Surf SOHO Router for RV Use.. This router has been highly anticipated and many in this community have been waiting patiently for it for some time.. Well, my wait is finally over..
To start, why did I need it? I have a new motorhome that I bought in October and my wife and I have 2 macs, 1 apple tv, 2 ipads, 3 iphones, 1 apple watch, and the occasional Xbox when I allow my 13 year old to take it. The process of getting everyone “online” to keep me from blowing through my 30gb AT&T service is time consuming. In addition, I like to use the Apple TV for air play to throw something on my iPad or mac up on the screen either for video or as my second monitor. I also play with video editing and its nice to access a storage device wirelessly without lag. That was my reason for wanting this unit. However, RV on the go comes with complexity which you guys are clearly aware of.
Quickly.. Advantages of the New Peplink Surf SOHO..
1. Newest wireless technology support providing LAN speeds (internal network) of up to 1300Mbps. The speed is literally as fast as the lan so for network files its like you are wired.
2. Ability to utilize USB 4g and LTE Modems. And based on their site, it supports over 250 compatible modems.. I’d say thats most of them.
3. ABILITY TO UTILIZE WIFI AS WAN . This is the big one.. This feature allows you to have all of your devices in your RV setup to talk to the router and the router talking to the RV Park wifi for you.. This serves several purposes.
a. Security - You can know that your kid's (and yours for that matter) devices are protected from hacking through a firewall that is in your RV so you have control rather than hoping the RV park is not using the cheapest router/access point available (what do you think?)..
b. Connection - Since all of your devices, whether it is a printer, apple watch, chrome cast, apple tv, phones, etc.. they are all connecting to the same internal network meaning they will talk to each other even when you DONT have internet.. Then quickly by connecting 1 device (the router) to the internet all of your devices work, securely...
c. Flexibility - It keeps up with multiple profiles or memories of past wifi access points that it has connected to and will automatically switch to the strongest one.. So if you do still have a house like me and pull into the home area, it will automatically connect up to the home network. This also goes for RV parks you frequent. So if you have been there before there is nothing to do but start enjoying the internet.
d. Speed - The internal wireless lan is so fast you can easily have a NAS (network attached storage) hard drive that has movies, music, etc saved on it allowing for hours of enjoyment while on the road when you don't have a signal. Basically your new home DVD library without the DVD's.
e. Internet Speed - Many times the speed of your internet isn't the fault of the RV park as much as it is a limitation of the antenna of your phone or device trying to connect to it. The router has external antennas and can even boost power (technically not legal in some states as stated on the menu) so it is "reaching out and touching" with more effectiveness than your iPhone ever could. Place the router high in your RV and you will get even better reception. Bottom line, better connection between the router and the RV park wifi gives you a better connection for your phone.
4. Prioritization of WAN connections.. This gives you the ability to have a Verizon connected through USB or jetpack or even a iPad that has tethering BUT if you roll up into a park that has good wifi and you want everyone to switch over, simply set the wifi as wan to a higher priority than the verizon and everyone will automatically use it over verizon.. Once on the road and the wifi is gone everyone will automatically start using the verizon again.. Sweet.
5. If you have an Apple TV or a ChromeCast and you want to shoot your video to your TV or use the TV as a second monitor for work you can and do so at the high 1300Mbps speed. Meaning, no drag, no delay. This is something I do all the time utilizing Apple Air Play to use my TV as a second monitor either for video work, presentations, zooms, whatever. There is no delay when you are on this fast of a network. - One note about Apple TV is you need to have the latest version in order to support the newest wifi protocols (802.11N or 802.11AC). Similar goes with chrome cast although I'm not as familiar with their technology. Those protocols are hardware specific so firmware doesn’t upgrade to a newer protocol support.
6. Filtering to protect your kids.. I have not tested this too much yet but there is support for application blocking including things like pornography, p2p file sharing, adware, etc.. Even audio-video, file hosting sites (unfortunately this does count dropbox and iCloud and amazon web - you can exempt used sites if necessary while still blocking the rest), update sites, etc… I have found that based on the few sites I went to it does succeed in blocking those sites.. As usual, I would not blindly trust this feature and assume that it is going to protect your family from everything but it is having very positive results.. Example, I went to www.thechive.com which is technically not a pornographic site but does have less than “family oriented” pictures on it. The site wouldn’t work. I also checked other unsavory sites and all were blocked successfully. Another powerful example is by going to download.cnet.com. This site is known as a legit site but is laden with adware and it successfully allows accessing the site but simply blocks out the ads and it states “due to content filtering” where the ad space is. Again, never assume this is a one stop shop solution for blocking bad sites but the value of having another level of protection is worth its weight in gold.. See Value below.
7. You have the ability to have multiple SSID (wireless names) so you can be on one wireless subnet and your kids on their own subnet.. Meaning that you can exempt yourself from filtering or you could setup bandwidth management on their wifi but gives yourself full speed. You can setup “scheduled wifi” for them and you can have it 24x7. Basically their wifi dies when you want it to automatically on a scheduled basis… Cool huh.. You can also have a guest wifi that provides visitors with internet but not your personal network. Not as big of a deal for our use as for an office but its there.
8. Very low power consumption - Especially important for those using solar and staying off grid or running off batteries for extended periods, this unit uses 26W Max with USB Wan Stick meaning that it takes less than a light bulb… Not bad.
9. UPnP - This is a technology typically used by devices such as Xbox or other “appliances” to simplify connection to the router. This router supports UPnP technology.
10. Value. For what you get this router provides extremely good value for what you are spending. And the pricing usually found in this level of filtering (at the router level) typically comes at a high price. Example: Cost of the SOHO is 179 and has filtering built in it. Before I retired from IT our standard was Sonicwall or Cisco and they provided filtering at a yearly subscription price of around 150-300.. per year.
11. Warranty. You get a 1 year warranty with purchase and it is important to keep it under warranty if you are relying on updates both for security as well as content filtering as this changes often. Regrettably I was unable to determine the cost of extending support past the one year although I can’t imagine it would be more than 50-100 dollars based on the cost of the router in general. Likely even less. I thought I remembered seeing a 25 dollar yearly fee but haven’t been able to find that since. If this is the case that would be a fantastic value for sure.
Things to consider during setup.
1. Setup is easy but simple which can cause issues with compatibility down the road if you happen to end up connecting to a park that is using your same ip address scheme. I know this might get a bit technical but think of it this way. In the U.S. there are no 2 physical addresses that are the same. Something differs, either the city, state, zip, or road name itself.. If they didn't differ, mail would never get to the right place. IP Technology is the same. The Peplink by default uses a 192.168.50.x internal network scheme (It’s address). While not common (192.168.1.x or 192.168.0.x is most common where X would be the device number) it would be possible to hit a park that was using the 192.168.50.x network address. I tend to change mine to the 10.0.x.x scheme because you typically only see this in commercial LAN's not consumer (192.x). The instruction card that the router comes with is simple but will get the unit configured very easily by following the directions. Again, you can leave at the .50.x address scheme and likely not run into issues so unless you are comfortable.. I wouldn't change it. (You have to change a couple different things - ip address of router and the DHCP Scope - addresses handed out to all the devices and if done wrong you could lose connectivity to the router and have to reset it). But theoretically its possible to at some point run into a "why is my internet not working" and this might be it.
2. You can generally poke around in the settings and turn things on like the filtering and other options without killing something important. I wouldn’t say it is fool proof but it is laid out well. If nervous, find a geek friend at a park that can help you configure it..
I have been waiting for this router now since I bought the motorhome in October. Immediately I recognized the need to have some method to connect all my equipment and create a simple way to have all of those connected to the internet either by my iPad (AT&T Subscription) or preferably by local wifi. This unit has the technology to fit my needs. Time will tell if it lives up to the reliability that we are hoping for. So far this is the most flexible router I have encountered and the only router that I know of that supports WiFi as WAN.. So options currently are limited but I have a feeling that this function will extend as popularity of “stringing along” wifi access points becomes more popular..
Until then, enjoy the outdoors and all your internet gadgets!
Adventurist at heart, David Mays looks to inspire others to live their life with focus and purpose. Experience and expansion is why we are here.