I have had my Virgin Media service installed since Thursday now & my first thoughts of the Virgin Media Super Hub 3 are some what mixed to be honest.
Virgin Media Super Hub 3For those of you who have not seen the Virgin Media Super Hub 3, here’s a picture, to be honest, it’s the nicest looking standard issue network provided router, I have seen.
It has a charming personality to it which is totally unique, I have never really considered a router as a decorative accessory but, with this one, we have been very happy to leave it standing proudly on our TV stand. It is, if nothing else, a very well designed piece of technology.
Virgin Media SuperHub 3.0 Hardware
Thankfully, its looks are not all that is going for the Super Hub 3 since it is packed full of some of the most impressive features I’ve found in a Super Hub or indeed, any network standard issue router. From a technical perspective, it is (so far as I am aware) hardware wise leading the way for connectivity with its Quintet of antennae (5 wifi antenna). Here are the tech specs from Virgin’s website.
Euro / DOCSIS 3.0 (24 Downstream and 8 Upstream channels)
4 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Ports
2 x RJ-11 Telephone Ports
802.11 AC WiFi (2.4GHz + 5GHz)
Download Speed of up to 1 Gbps (ignore this, you won’t ever get that on VM until DOCSIS3.1 arrives)
TG2492S/CE Touchstone Telephony GatewaySuperHubs Big Brother – Comparison
Since this router is designed by Arris, I decided to do some digging and find out which one it is based on & considering how pleasing to look at the Super Hub 3 is, I have to say, it is almost terrifying to look at its big brother, the Arris TG2492S/CE Touchstone Telephony Gateway.
I mean honestly, looking at the two they are technically identical but I thank the broadband gods that this things is not the router sitting in my living room! I mean look at it! Its just hideous!
There is one noticeable difference between the TG2492S & the Virgin Media Super Hub 3, there is no USB port on the Super Hub 3. I have been thinking about this greatly over the past few years and cannot see what the benefit of removing this feature is… there are many good points to having a USB port on your router, if nothing else, as a place to connect a USB HDD to and use as a central storage location to be mapped on windows machines for easy access across multiple devices. Its a clean and simple way for non-technical people to benefit from things like Samba Shares or networking a printer which doesn’t have built in network capabilities so this is a major detractor for the VMSH3.
There are inactive VOIP ports on the VMSH3 which is a really cool feature but sadly, at this stage there is no public information to suggest that VM have plans to implement a VOIP solution yet ? though I remain hopeful they will bring something to market in the future and I will talk more about the benefits of VOIP in a later post.
The Firmware (Oh My God No! What Have They Done?!)
There is one part of the VMSH3 which I am not at all satisfied with & that is the Firmware which is preloaded to it. There is no mask on the password field which means when you input it, it’s in plain text for the whole world to see!
There is about a 30 – 60 second (latency) delay between loading the IP and being allowed to enter the password and at least a 20 second delay when navigating from page to page within the UI also, the UI lacks many functions which would be considered very useful like changing the subnet or IP range used. I have never been a fan of 192.168.0.* and always favor the use of 192.168.1.* so that I can use progressive IP’s for a multi level network infrastructure within my home. Thankfully, I found a solution to this flaw using web callback requests to make it do these things (you need to know how to use hexadecimal URLs to make this work).
That’s all for now since I’ve only been using it for a few days, there is an upgrade scheduled for release at some point which may or may not bring more functionality and fixes for some of the bugs. I’ll be posting more about the Virgin Media service, both broadband & TV in the future as well as about other ISP’s & their equipment. If there is a piece of tech you want my opinion on, please let me know!