|At a Glance|
|Product||PowerCloud Systems SkyDog [Website]|
|Summary||Kickstarter-funded N600 class router focused on internet use reporting|
|Pros||• Easy Setup
• Easy remote administration
• Strong user-based internet use reporting features
• DNS-based content filtering
|Cons||• Internet use & parental controls are a work in progress
• No storage sharing or remote access
• Most features go away after 3 years if you don't pony up for a subscription.
Updated 7/3/2013: Security information added
It’s not often that we review products funded by KickStarter. But when we see something with unique features, why not? Earlier this spring, PowerCloud Systems launched a Kickstarter project for its Skydog router. Tim covered the announcement on April 10. Skydog is on track to ship in September. But since Tim signed up for an early beta, we have one to review.
As noted in the announcement coverage, PowerCloud is a PARC spinoff that's been around for a few years, trying to get traction with its cloud-based Wi-Fi network management platform. The company has partnered with companies like D-Link and ZyXEL to offer PowerCloud-enabled access points and also produced a few access points of its own. These enterprise-focused products all require paid licenses to reap the benefits of PowerCloud's CloudCommand technology.
Skydog is PowerCloud System's first foray into the consumer market and uses its CloudCommand infrastructure and technology. Skydog's focus is giving consumers a centrally-managed and monitored Wi-Fi network.
Since Skydog is still in beta, we won’t be doing performance testing until we get a final production unit. As with most beta products, some features are not implemented yet. So think of this review as a snapshot of the product as of the 3.0.1 beta.
Skydog is a generic-looking 802.11n N600 class router with Gigabit Ethernet WAN and LAN ports.
Skydog rear view
The FCC ID (U2M-WBR4200AGN) reveals Senao (the parent company of EnGenius) as the manufacturer. The inside view taken from the FCC docs shows a Qualcomm Atheros based design. The WikiDevi page is fairly thin on information because the photos are not clear enough to ID all the components.
The mini-PCIe module uses an Atheros AR9382 dual-band 2x2 SoC. The other radio—that probably also serves as the main CPU—is a mystery. The photo below shows that the second digit is fuzzy, so the WikiDevi's AR1022 guess could be wrong. There is no closeup of the Gigabit switch, but it's clear that it's also from Atheros.
Skydog mystery chip
There are no power amplifiers visible on the mini PCIe module or main board. So you should not expect wireless range to be particularly impressive.
Skydog mini PCIe board detail
In order to get the full benefit from Skydog, you have to register the device. If you are upgrading/replacing your existing router with a Skydog and you already have an internet connection, you can pre-register it before you disconnect your old router and hook it up. You can register the router using your Google credentials and the device ID found on the bottom of the unit, or you can create a Skydog account.
As with most routers, if your ISP provides an IP address via DHCP, configuration is a snap. Once connected to the internet, Skydog will check for firmware updates and install them if necessary. It will also perform an internet speed check. The status light will continue to blink until you register the device. The quick start guide warns you that the initial firmware check/upgrade and the internet speed test could take up to five minutes to complete.
If you’re not willing to give up your existing router, you can still use Skydog to monitor and control internet usage. Just attach the WAN port of Skydog to a LAN port on your existing router. All devices connected to Skydog, either wired or wireless, will be monitored by it. The gallery below shows the setup process.