DrayTek Vigor2500V review
Back in the era of 28.8K modems and Internet Phone, it would have been laughable to suggest the Net would take over from the humble handset. But slowly and surely, the days of traditional POTS (plain old telephone service) are becoming numbered. Services such as Skype and SIP are bringing cheap, or even free, phone calls to broadband users. Although this sounds simple, setting it up isn’t always that straightforward – particularly SIP. This is where DrayTek’s Vigor2500V steps in, with Internet telephony preconfigured out of the box.
Unlike previous Vigors, which concentrated on function rather than form, the Vigor2500V has attractive wavy lines that make it better suited to public visibility. But it’s still a sophisticated piece of kit inside. There’s a built-in ADSL modem, a four-port switch, and two RJ-11 telephone jacks on the back. One of the latter is for plugging in an analog telephone, and the other acts as a passthrough for your existing landline, so you can pick up calls from that with the same phone.
The centrepiece of the Vigor2500V is integrated SIP support. This allows you to place completely free calls to other SIP devices over the Internet. So, you could have branch offices with Vigors and drastically reduce your call charges – especially if the offices are abroad. But if you need to call regular phones, you’ll need an SIP gateway service. Included with the Vigor2500V is £2 of SIP gateway calls via the DrayTEL service (www.draytel.org). Not only is there a coupon in the box, but the unit itself is already preconfigured. All you need to do is log into your ADSL, hook up an analog phone via the provided BT-to-RJ-11 convertor, and start dialling. DrayTEL’s per-minute call charges range from 1.6p for UK national or 1.4p for the US, to 11p for India. Standard BT charges cost more than twice that.
Early SIP adopters will have noticed that line quality can be destroyed by using the same broadband connection for heavy Internet data use – particularly upstream. The Vigor2500V’s QoS Assurance gets round this by dedicating bandwidth to the telephony when it’s in operation, so you always get decent quality. We tried placing calls with simultaneous large file uploads and downloads, and found there was no loss in quality, although SIP always inserts a larger delay than with regular circuit-switched phone lines.
Aside from SIP telephony, the Vigor2500V has a host of more standard broadband routing functions. You can nominate a DMZ, or configure port redirection to individual local clients. You can also open ports for specific machines on the local network. There’s an extensive built-in firewall. This has both call and data filters, with up to 12 selectable presets, including seven rules each. There’s extensive Denial-of-Service protection from a wide variety of attacks, and a URL content filter with up to eight keyword lists.
Dynamic DNS tracking is particularly extensive, with direct support for DynDNS, No-IP, DtDNS, ChangeIP, Dynamic Nameserver and DDNS, but not TZO. You can configure the ADSL modem to dial up only at set times, such as weekday office hours. The Vigor2500V will even check your ISP’s POP3 email server, and flash a light on the front if you’ve got mail so you don’t have to switch on a PC to find out.
As with all of DrayTek’s Vigors, the 2500V offers a wealth of features, and the SIP telephony works particularly well. At £129, it won’t be long before you start saving money on phone calls either.