Review: Kyocera KR1 Wireless Router - InformationWeek

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Review: Kyocera KR1 Wireless Router

Easy setup and good throughput make the KR1 Router a device any mobile business can both afford and put to good use.

Double Duty

The large "Powered by D-Link" logo on the front of the steel-gray KR1 explains what's afoot here: The KR1 was created through a partnership between Kyocera and D-Link. Kyocera handled the EV-DO development; D-Link provided the routing and Wi-Fi capabilities. The KR1 offers two ways to get an EV-DO connection: by way of an EV-DO modem plugged into the unit's PC card slot, or over the USB port for those wanting to connect the KR1 with an EV-DO-enabled phone. And the EV-DO connection can be shared using a wired connection to one of four 10/100 Ethernet ports or wirelessly using 802.11b or g.

• Easy setup
• Good throughput
• Competitive price


• Relatively high latency
• No signal strength indicator for EV-DO service

Kyocera KR1 Mobile Router, set by retailers. Kyocera Wireless, (800) 349-4188, (858) 882-2000.

Kyocera sent a late preproduction model of the KR1 to me in Washington, D.C., where I tested it using Kyocera's KPC650 wireless card and Verizon Wireless' Broadband Access EV-DO service. Kyocera says the KR1 is both carrier- and modem-agnostic, and my tests didn't disprove the claim. I also tested a Novatel V620 EV-DO card with it and had no connection problems. For client tests I used an IBM T30 laptop running Windows XP and a Linksys WPC54G 802.11g wireless card.

The KR1 comes ready to run out of the box: The configuration information (login credentials and how to connect) for the EV-DO network is stored on the PC Card or phone with which you're connecting. Router configuration is accomplished through the built-in Web management interface. The device offers standard SOHO (small office/home office) router options, including support for both WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and WPA-PSK (Wi-Fi Protected Access-Preshared Key) and all the wired routing (including VPN pass-through) you'd expect in this class of router.

Previously, I'd found the management interfaces for D-Link products functional but clunky. I was pleasantly surprised that the KR1's management interface is easier to read than D-Link's.

Although I liked the layout and functionality of the management interface, the lack of information for the EV-DO connection was disappointing. A user can view the IP information and connection status; however, there's no place in the Web interface or on the device to see the signal strength of the EV-DO connection. When I used the router in EV-DO-only mode, in an area where the EV-DO service wasn't strong, I couldn't easily see why the router was losing service. Given that placement of the KR1 will end up as a compromise between signal strength from the EV-DO network and Wi-Fi performance, determining signal strength for the EV-DO connection is a must. I hope this capability will be in the firmware by the time the KR1 hits production.

Satisfying Numbers

Performance test results were impressive, with Web-based throughput ranging from 430 Kbps to almost 1 Mbps on the downstream side and 110 Kbps to 130 Kbps on the upstream side.

The problem with EV-DO (and cellular data technologies in general) is latency. Latency was tolerable with ping averages of 147 milliseconds (, 173 ms ( and 154 ms (

Web page load times were good, but not as quick as true broadband. On EV-DO, media-rich sites clocked in at about 16 seconds (, 15 seconds ( and 11 seconds ( I compared those times to DSL (7 seconds for, 6 seconds for and 5 seconds for and found that though EV-DO was slower, it was perfectly usable.

Bandwidth Hogs

EV-DO's high latency can make it less useful for applications like VoIP (voice over IP), streaming audio or video, or remote presentation. Note that these bandwidth-intensive applications may be limited by the provider's user agreement.

EV-DO is a shared pipe, so the more users on the network, the bigger the performance hit. I didn't notice much difference in performance during peak and off-peak times, however. EV-DO was perfectly suitable for viewing Web pages, checking e-mail and other business-oriented tasks.

After living with the KR1 for a few weeks, I could see its potential. You could use it any place where offices are impermanent--construction sites and trade shows, for example. People who travel often may find the KR1 intriguing, as they can share their EV-DO connection with colleagues, bypassing paid hot spots. There has even been talk of using devices like the KR1 to create mobile hot spots in buses and trains--an idea whose time has come. With an easy setup and good throughput, the Kyocera KR1 router is a device any mobile business can both afford and put to good use.

Sean Ginevan is a freelancer writer for Network Computing and CMP's He previously worked at Syracuse University's Center for Emerging Network Technologies. Write to him at [email protected].

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