Smartfren HR950B Review

HR950B Modem Poster
If you guys happen to live in Indonesia, you ought to know a telcom provider Smartfren. It's actually a merge between two telco companies, Smart and Fren. Both of them were in CDMA platform. Smartfren is actually the first provider to have EV-DO Rev.B Phase 2 connection, which promises to bring high-speed internet experience up to 14.7 Mbps download, and 5.1 Mbps upload. I've managed to get one of their latest Wi-Fi router a week ago, and I guess it's indeed fast, rather than any GSM connections I've tried. I'm not going to hammer down the connection rate, though... since the Rev. B is only available in select province... for now. Okay, so is this router worth the price? Let's find out! :D

Initial Look-up:

Pros

  1. The design is pretty, and the packaging is quite efficient.
  2. External antenna for better wireless range.
  3. Support WAN, LAN, Ethernet (up to 3 computers).
  4. Wi-Fi radio can still be active even though LAN cable is connected.
  5. USB Port for powering USB device, or for cloud storage (requires an USB flash drive).
  6. Support voice calls and SMS.

Cons

  1. Heating is still an issue after a prolonged use.
  2. Voice calls require a separate PSTN device.
  3. Might take a few moments to get used to interpret the LED lights' colors.
  4. Battery doesn't last that long.

The Package

Ah, unboxing has always been my favorite activity... especially when it comes to computer products, gadgets, etc. Hehehe

The Router's Unboxing
Okay, so here's everything loaded in the box. We got usual stuffs, like the router itself, battery pack, charger, lots of manuals, terms and agreements (regarding to data usage), and the warranty card. I'd say it's packaged quite beautifully. I like the box. Just make sure you don't lose the warranty card, alright? One year of free service might just serve you one day.
In case you're wondering, your RUIM card is already inside the modem. All you need to do is just put the battery in, plug it into the charger, and you have one active, ready-to-use modem.
See the card in the left side next to the battery plugs with "32K" writing? That's your RUIM card.

The Surface

This section will cover the overall design of the device, the ports that it has, and how many lights are implemented into the device. Let's get into it.
Simple and Complete
So, the top part of the modem is where we can find the notification LEDs. They consist of LAN, WAN, and three LAN connections (on the left. The lights are pretty weak, that my camera can't catch it). As for the colorful lights on the right, we have the power button (bottom), EV-DO connectivity (middle), and the WDS setup (top). It may take a few moments to memorize what color on each button represents. You can learn that in the manual, and take a few days until you can get used to it.

Ports... Lots of it!
On the back side of the router, you'll find the antenna and lots of holes... useful holes. From the left, we have the charging port. The four holes afterwards are used for WAN and LAN connection (in case you don't want to share your internet). I suppose that you can somehow forward the connection from your home cable modem to this router through the WAN port, but I haven't tried that out.

The next port is USB, which you can use to plug your U-Disk (or flash drive, I suppose) for a shared storage for the family. You can find how to set up the FTP from that thick user manual book. It's pretty easy, but since I use this modem individually, I don't think I'll ever use it. Oh, please bear in mind that this router can support the U-Disk up to 32GB of capacity.

The final port is used for PSTN or telephone cable, if you're wondering. That's right, the "Support Voice Function" written on the box will work, only if you have a home phone connected to it. 

Functionality

Okay, so you finally get to know your toy. The next thing you should know is how to play with it, right? Let me show you.

Well, unfortunately, I had to find the address myself from Windows' Connection Settings. I'll post a tutorial later about this. In my case, you'll have to access 192.168.1.1 from your browser, and you'll be brought to the following window:
If you've ever set up a WiFi connection before, this should be familiar to you
The default username and password will always be the same throughout many routers, and that's "admin" without the quotes. Be sure to change the username and password later, or someday a hacker or some lucky guy might find their way into the router and mess up with its settings. If you hit "Log In", you'll finally enter the router's management.
Proof of Success
From the welcome screen, you'll be presented with language selection. The default choice is English, but you can change it later. You can also find the signal strength and type (in bars), connection and battery status, and the operator you're using. 

Security and/or Restrictions:

Everything's already automated and set from out of the box; you don't even need to enter this screen. But again, if you're not that generous like me, you may want to restrict the Wi-Fi connection to yourself, or password your network from any data leeches out there. Most people here, once they've found a fast, free Wi-Fi, will start their download frenzy. If you have data limit, then I suggest you to set some fences to fend off those ungrateful leeches. Here's how:

From the left navigation tree, navigate to Wireless Settings -> Basic. You should see this now,
See that button which says "RADIO OFF"? Hit that button, and the router will deactivate the wireless radio. Doing this, of course, will restrict you from connecting to it wirelessly, and tell you to use a LAN cable, which is not that hard and expensive to get.

Secondly, you might want to password your wi-fi network. To do this, you need to go to Wireless Settings -> WPS. You can choose which security type the router will use, but I recommend the last choice. Input your password, apply the settings, and voila! Your network is protected.

Text Function

Surprisingly, this modem can also send out text messages to other cell phones (of course, you'll have to have some balance in your account). To do this, simply navigate to the "SMS" folder, and there will be choices like Inbox, Outbox, Write SMS, etc. like the following window:

Battery Life, and Miscellaneous

The first time I bought this device, I thought that I'd finally be free of the heating issue I got with my USB dongle (provided by Smartfren as well) but I was wrong. After using it for about 30 minutes, heat starts to cover the plastic case. Well, at least it takes longer to pile up that much heat.

To counter this, I bought an external USB mini fan used to cool down netbooks. At first, I was skeptical but later, I was "Heck, this thing actually works!". Based on that, I'd advise you to pick up those mini fans. They're not expensive, at around Rp40,000.00. I guess that's cheap compared to the cost you'd suffer when your device can't take much more heat.

As for the battery life, I'm pretty much disappointed. It actually has less capacity than its predecessor, the AR910B (It has 2,700 mAh battery, and can be used as power bank). Originally, I want to get it, but unfortunately, that product has been discontinued. Oh well, both things are pretty much the same when plugged in, anyways...

Verdict

So, do you need to buy this modem or not? 
  • Design 8/10 => Eye-candy, and beautiful
  • Connectivity 10/10 => Just like a normal DSL router, has Wi-Fi, Ethernet, telephone, and even USB port!
  • Speed N/A => Smartfren has yet to cover all parts of Indonesia with EV-DO Rev.B Phase 2 signal, so judging the speed won't be fair.
  • Usability 6/10 => Heating is an issue, and it takes a few moments to get used to this router. Everything  else is perfect.
  • FINAL VERDICT => 8/10 
If you're searching for a router with fast CDMA connection, you can pick up this guy. Smartfren and other brands also provide other MiFi routers like this one, but they haven't supported EVDO Rev.B yet. If you don't need Wi-Fi, then you can go pick up one of their 3 selections of USB Rev.B modems. It's said that they're not as hot as this one, so you don't have to worry about your choice.

Tips when Using the Modem:

  1. This modem, unfortunately, also has heating issues, although not as bad as their cheap USB dongle. I'd advise you to use it with a USB-powered fan below it, and in a cold room. In case you're wondering, yes... the USB port on the modem can power the fan.
  2. When you're at home or close to an electric plug, it's advised to take out the battery, and plug the modem in. Use it while plugged in, without the battery. That way, it'll produce less heat, and prolong the life of your battery.
  3. Since your battery doesn't last long outdoor, it's better to use LAN cable and turn the wireless radio off. It'll help save your battery.
  4. Bring the charger wherever you go!
Okay, I guess that's all I can write for a review. Since this is my first REAL review, if you've found any mistakes, I terribly apologize. Please fill in the comments below about my article, and kindly share if you like and recommend it, especially for those considering to pick up this modem. Thanks for reading, and hope this can help you :D

Comments

  1. I bought this modem a few days ago, my problem is it hangs after a short period of time. As it is plug and play product, i am not sure why it does shut down itself. Any idea how to solve this? thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, and thanks for coming! :D

      Hrm, I've also experienced a similar problem like yours a few days ago and I suspect that it has to do with the connection. Have you tried restarting it?

      Delete
  2. I also have a same problem. the wifi freeze can't connect to my mac. i've restarted many of times. it always the same. i can't used it at all at the moment when i'm typing these words. i just use my free neighbor wifi to surf the internet. what should i do?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What about the signal in your area? Is it good?

      Delete
  3. Excellent and thorough review. Many, many thanks. I really appreciate reviews like yours. Again, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello!

    Much appreciated for the very well written reviews. :)

    Is there any up to date bugs with this device other than the freezing issue? And how to troubleshoot the freezing issue?

    ReplyDelete
  5. nice review.

    i've got lil question. is this type better than modem AR910 which is also wifi router from smartfren ?

    have you tried routers other than this ? how about if you compare it with your previous router.

    thanks before, and i'm sorry for my bad language....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At first, I was determined to get the AR910 model, but unfortunately it's been discontinued for a while now... and Smartfren only left us with the HR910B model. I heard the AR910, besides not having the overheating issue, can also be used as a power bank, due to its higher-capacity battery (2,000mAh)

      If you can get the AR910, I think it's better to go and get it, if you don't need the LAN and landline features of the HR910B.

      Thanks for reading and sorry for replying late :D

      Delete
  6. just want to know how to enable the UPNp functionality on the router, it has the function,cus can see it when it shows you the current settings but no switch.... very annoying and difficult to find any support if you don't speak Bahasa Indo lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mike,

      If what you're referring to UPNp is Universal Plug and Play, I believe there's no special switch to this. It's already active the moment you use the modem. Hope this helps :)

      Delete

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