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A Review of the Pandora's Hope Wireless Router

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The Pandora's Hope Wireless Router is an amazing tool for families interested in filtering web content and managing web access in their home to any wireless device. The system is cost-effective, extremely full-featured and very fast. With a wide range of options for any family, this filtered wireless router is a great addition to a home where there are a number of wireless devices accessing the Internet.

Why Pandora's Hope?

I can't think of any parents I know who want to allow their children unbridled access to the Internet. Without careful parental monitoring and caution, kids can get exposed to all kinds of dangerous material on the Web from pornography to drug information to malicious software. And while many parents use parental control software on the computers in their home, smartphones and tablets and e-readers often have access to the Internet without going through these computer-based filters. The Pandora's Hope router offers an easy to administer solution to filtering the content of and managing access to the Internet for every wireless device connecting to your WiFi hotspot.

The Router

The wireless router sold by Pandora's Hope is manufactured by Buffalo and comes in two different models. The family model, sold for $99.99, supports most family installations and allows connections to 5 different mobile devices. It operates in the 2.4 GHz band and comes with 64 MB of RAM. The pro model, selling for $159.99, has 128 MB of RAM and supports 15 concurrently connected devices. The pro model operates in either the 2.4 GHz band or the 5 GHz band. Both models come with 4 Ethernet LAN ports and 1 WAN port, all gigbit compatible.

We have been using the pro version of this wireless router in our home for about 6 months and have had superior performance.

Setting up the router out of the box was really easy and very intuitive.

The Controls for Pandora's Hope

One of the things I liked most about the controls for the Pandora's Hope router was the large number of options for tweaking performance. For example, the interface allows the user to specify times of access for each device attached to the network, along with a default guest time allowance. So, if you want to have the kids' devices off from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. and have Mom's and Dad's devices on different schedules, you can.

There are also lots of setting options for the device itself. From the interface, you can enable or disable the router, change security settings, enable or disable port forwarding, modify universal Plug-n-Play settings, change and administer passwords and the like.

The Pandora's Hope router controls are easy to use and understand and can be managed by both a novice and an experienced user.

Content Filtering

The meat of the value of the Pandora's Hope router is the content filtering offering. It is more robust than many filtering interfaces I have seen and used with our home computers. It has the standard features like whitelist, blacklist and greylist, but it also has a full-featured keyword blocking function that is really helpful if some content you want to block is not generally blocked by Pandora's Hope. For example, you may want to block access to content related to a certain name or location.

Pandora's Hope has a relatively easy "slider type" interface allowing the user to pick a predetermined blocking strategy between strict and relaxed. There is also an interface that allows the user to block certain types of sites such as drugs, gambling, guns and violence, malicious software and pornography. So there is a lot of flexibility built into the filtering system.

In addition, you can control image searches by blocking access to Google Images and to encrypted Google searches.

There is also an "exclude from filter" list that allows any device you specify to be not subject to filtering. This might be good for an adult's device or for something like a DVR or an Apple TV that might not play well with content filtering.

Montoring Features

One of the great things about the Pandora's Hope system is that it continually monitors websites that have been visited and that have been blocked by date and by device. So, if one of the kids is trying hard to work around the filtering, you can see when and which sites were blocked and which device tried to access them. If the kids are supposed to be doing homework and instead are playing games, you can see when they visited which sites and have a chat. The level of control that this device has on your family's Internet experience is pretty amazing.

Cost

In addition to the router prices indicated earlier in the review, maintaining the up to date filtering data is $19.99 per year billed annually. Therefore, as new and dangerous websites hit the Internet, your family is always protected.

Support

We have had occasion to use the support system just once when we were in the initial setup phase and had trouble figuring out the interface for time restrictions. Support staff was timely and helpful. The user manual is well written with lots of screenshots to help even the novice user successfully set up and manage the router and filtering.

Overall Impressions

We have loved our Pandora's Hope router. It has made the Internet experience a lot safer for our children, and it blocks content that we would rather not see as well. While it is a little pricier than similar wireless routers, the filtering and monitoring are quite robust and full-featured. Our experience has been nearly flawless and I recommend Pandora's Hope to any family who wants to take control of the Internet experience for their family on any wired or wireless devices you use.

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