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!
No I don't mean Dolly Pardon although I did work with her recently in my acting work.. I mean the Dolly that you use to tow your vehicle behind an RV. This is part of what I needed to make my solution complete when I decided to purchase the 2017 Thor 29.4 Motorhome. I, just as most you see on the road, needed a way to get around in a vehicle that was a little more manueverable than the bus. Especially since once you are plugged in with sewage, power and water with slides out it takes a little bit to get moving again... So, when I bought the RV I made two additional purchases. A motorcycle hauler (something I will review soon) and the Roadmaster RM3477 Tow Dolly..
The unit is pretty simple and requires very little configuration once initially put together.. There is a "wide" and a "narrow" configuration when you initially assembling the unit with regard to the width of the wheels of the tow vehicle. In addition, the tow straps can slide in and out further allowing for different sized vehicles to tow.
I went with this model rather than the more popular tow hook which tows vehicles with all 4 tires on the ground but provides a faster connect/disconnect option.. The dolly is a less expensive option for one but primarily because I have two vehicles I will tow depending on who is going with me on the trip. Installing the necessary braking solution in both vehicles seemed cost prohibitive.
The vehicle tracks very smooth behind the RV and to be honest I seldom noticed it was back there. That said, you are NOT able to backup while towing a vehicle primarily due to there being a swivel in the front of the unit between the skids holding the vehicle and the frame of the unit connected to the tires... So be warned you are forward motion only!
Clearance under the dolly especially when unloaded is very low... Every time I pulled into a gas station I rubbed at least a little. Primarily the skids I believe but the bolts underneath are probably 3-4" off the ground.. It's not a show stopper but definitely something to be aware of.
The straps can be a bit of a pain until you get used to installing them. I am getting faster at it and now have it down to about 15 minutes. You do get your hands dirty since you are dealing with tires and straps and things that are typically in the elements. Doing so in the rain or other weather has its disadvantages as well but overall it still isn't a big deal.
Finally the straps connect over the tires and lock behind with a hook and in front with a typical tie-down ratchet method.. (Check your tire size to insure the straps will accomadate) This works quite well once you get the hang of it. I highly recommend taking a sharpy to one of the straps so as not to always have to stare at them to determine which goes on which side. The straps seem to stay in place quite well and I did stop as directed after 5 miles and ever so on on my trip to insure it was still tight.. I have had to rachet a couple times but nothing that would have been an issue.
Another unknown that would have been useful knowledge. Or at least I didn't and apparently neither did some at Camping World where I purchased the unit with the RV. Just because the unit has integrated electric brakes you still need a brake controller installed on your rig in order to activate the brakes.. Granted this might be common knowledge except when I purchased the unit as part of the initial sale I had no idea and when they installed it they said they tested the brakes and heard them activate so it seemed to me that whatever was needed was installed. I later found out from someone at Camping World who apparently knew more than the person who assembled it (slight concern there) that it was impossible to activate the breaks because there was no brake controller sending any type of signal to say "how much" it should brake. Makes sense when you think about it seeing the dolly had no logic chip or computer in it to determine such but again, I accidentally assumed they knew.
So, the dealer also had to install a Primus IQ brake controller in order to finish the install to make it a complete working unit. Yes, regrettably that is after I took possession of the dolly and towed my Cherokee across the state and over the mountain WITHOUT a way to activate the trailer brakes... No damage thankfully but certainly could have been. hmmm.. My review of how that happened on a different post... Again, I never claimed to be a RV expert including towing vehicles behind it.. I simply wanted a solution that worked... Again, that story later..
Another fun fact that was apparently missed by the dealer who sold me the solution is the fact that although the trailer has lights it is required by law for the towed vehicle to have lights on the back of the vehicle when in tow. Therefore when you purchase the dolly you also need to purchase the accessory item
from RoadMaster part number 2000. That part number is the delux set and I recommend that due to the higher quality wiring that is provided with that set. This provides you with magnetic lights to attach to the back of the towed vehicle to properly light the tail of the tow. Without it you are technically not legal at night. This would have been great to let me know when I was purchasing the whole solution.
Be aware, the unit does have a limited tow capacity of 4250 pounds for the vehicle being towed but that is sufficient to tow most small SUV's and sedans making the tow options quite broad.
I do like the flexibility of having multiple vehicles and I don't see the time required to disconnect the vehicle being a major detractor. It also does simplify not having to deal with moving or having two brake controllers in the towed vehicles as well. The unit overall is well built and the price for a tow dolly is very reasonable and seems well made for the long haul. I highly recommend this product and feel comfortable towing my vehicles behind it over long distances.. Cheers!!
New Day New Chapter of Living
There comes a time in everyone's life where one starts reflecting on how far they have come. Reflections on where you are, where you want to go, as well as is that where you really wanted to go in the first place. I find it interesting that we as Americans typically see "stuff" be it a house a car a item you pick up at the local store as security in one sense or the other. In fact, it is easy to have that a false sense of security placed on "stuff" that sneaks into our unconscious which leads us to continuing to look to fill our lives with more and more stuff...
Enter the RV... Due to several factors, Holly and I ended up purchasing a motorhome to support our existing business and escape the idea of living in one spot all the time.. We have teams of people in distant areas of the country and the need to connect to them on a more personal level has been felt strongly and this became a fantastic way to do it. I'll let you know how escaping the sense of security of living in one place goes but supporting our existing business is bound to be worth diving into RV life.
We live in very interesting times.. Everywhere you look there is concern due to how the markets are acting (stocks continue to climb or remain at least stable) and economic purchasing (consumer confidence) continues to slip.. The bottom line is making money, at least a lot of money, for the average person isn't made the way it used to be. Now it is all about the numbers.. Making a little off of a lot of people. Finding a way to make something go viral that you get a tiny piece of each transaction. The internet and shipping affordability has allowed you and me to compete with what would have been brick and mortar stores just a few years ago.. I have met people who make t-shirts that become a hit and they do very well. My wife and I teach about essential oils and we do very well.. A YouTuber creates a host of videos and makes 6-figure income from the views... Money has moved..
So the RV made sense.. Create a following, follow our passions, and provide sincere value to those who appreciate it. I'm curious, what are you doing to enter into this new economy where you can benefit from the leverage of technology rather than being displaced by it. Technology is knocking out a ton of jobs per year.. Just consider a few jobs that were well paying 10 years ago are virtually nonexistent now. Consider medical transcriptionist - Dragon dictate + EMR = extinction. Stenographers have been replaced technologically but the law simply hasn't caught up.. But it will.. Google has announced the idea of the self driving car... They already do it in some areas for mapping.. Taxi drivers anyone? 10 years where will those jobs go? What are you doing to insure you don't become obsolete? Now, the bigger question is overall what do we do? And that is a fantastic question. Those truly in power question this as well and frankly its new territory so no one really knows where it will fall out for sure. This is likely why our government is changing things to have more and more control over the private sector. Or they just want more power but either way it is happening.
That said, other than voting we can't control what government does but we can control our awareness and what we can do.. So let's hear it.. Do you agree with regard to where money has moved to and how it is made? If so, what are you doing to tap into the new economy? If not, why not?
Find your passion, pursue it!!!
P.S. This blog, as you will discover, is about a large variety of topics from camping to RV'ing to economic thoughts or more... Enjoy!
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.