Review: Cradlepoint PHS300, CTR350 & CTR500 Mobile Routers

IMG_7286Review: Cradlepoint PHS300, CTR350 & CTR500 Mobile Routers:
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★½
Website www.cradlepoint.com
Price
: PHS300, $179.99; CTR350, $99.99; CTR500, $199.99

Summary: Almost idiot-proof mobile routers for LAN and mobile broadband connections.

Common Review, Setup: The Cradlepoint routers are made ready to connect right out of the box. No need to log in or connect, like you might have to do with your computer. Just plug in the router and the internet source and it all starts up on its own. The network itself is not WEP or WPA password protected by default, but there is a browser password prompt whose default password is on the router (last 6 digits of MAC address).

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Advanced Settings: The setup configuration screen when you first log in seems pretty complicated for a non-techy. But for someone with a little computer experience, you can turn off the browser based password and set up a WAP or WPA password pretty easily. There are advanced settings for firewalls, address filters and content filters as well as usage statistics.

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What makes these routers awesome? All three routers are tiny, and accept USB modems as input. So instead of using your USB modem just for your computer, you can share your single connection with any device using WiFi. For the auto-attached, the routers can be powered from the lighter socket in your car, making your car a mobile hotspot. For the truly mobile, the PHS300 can even run a few hours on battery power alone.

Differences:

  • CTR350: No-frills, cheapest and smallest externally powered router that accepts LAN and 3G USB connections.
  • PHS300: Minimalist battery powered router that accepts 3G, 4G and WiMax USB connections. Once charged, you can have a truly portable wireless connection for hours before having to plug in.
  • CTR500: Fancier externally powered router that accepts LAN, 3G & 4G USB and Express Cards.

Final Verdict: For a no frills travel-friendly router, the CTR350 is definitely a good buy. If you only have an express card modem then the CTR500 is right for your specific needs. But if you want a way to use your modem even when not near a power outlet, the PHS300 is one of a kind–letting you have a mobile hotspot that can run in your pocket. Check them all out at www.cradlepoint.com

8 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I own both the CTR350 and the CTR500 — two excellent devices from an outstanding company. Cradlepoint provides phenomenal support to its customers — many of the current features were based upon suggestions and enhancement requests from the Cradlepoint user community.

  2. Tom – could you share your configuration steps for using a Blackberry with these devices?

    thx

    • I currently use mine with a VZW 9630 (previously, I have used both the 8703e and the 8830). The tethering plan for the BlackBerry must be enabled. In a nutshell, there are only a few additional parameters to be configured as compared to a typical broadband router (security, DNS, etc. are just like any other router):

      1) username and password (VZW network): The username is “#777″ and the password is “##########@vzw3g.com” (substitute 10-digit cell phone number for number signs) — this varies by carrier.

      2) BlackBerry device password: The device password (commonly mandated by BES policy on corporate devices) must be entered if one is configured.

      3GStore.com is an EXCELLENT reseller of the Cradlepoint routers. They provide free after the sale tech support to assist with any configuration questions.

      • Hi Tom thanks for the quick reply!

        I’m excited to hear that you’re using your Cradlepoint devices with a Blackberry 9630 because this model isn’t on their supported device list – but it seems like it’s working well for you.

        I’m also assuming that if the 9630 works with a CTR350 and 500 that it will likely work with a PHS300, do you agree?

        To clarify your points #1 and #2, where am I entering that info (the vzw username and password and the blackberry device password)?

        Thanks for the tip about 3Gstore.com as well.

        • I would assume that the PHS300 would also work with the 9630 as the CTR350 and PHS300 are of the same firmware family. The info in points #1 and #2 is entered via the router web interface — I would need to power up and connect to the router to verify exactly which tab, but it’s fairly obvious.

          If you want to try it for yourself, 3GStore.com offers a 14-day (starting the day you receive the shipment) return policy

          • Thanks again, will check 3gstore. Hey just occurred to me – your 9630 runs Blackberry OS 5.x right? Cradlepoint said lots of sporatic issues with OS 5.x now. Curious if you’re running it.

  3. Still running OS v4.7.1.61 — OS v5.0 has not been released for the 9630.

  4. Hi Tom good point. I’m interested to see what customers see, since Cradlepoint says big issues with 5.x and doesn’t seem to have it on the priority list.

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