Digital Trends Review
- PROS: Elegant design. Protects an unlimited number of local devices on your network. Advanced on-the-go device management. Private Line protects devices even when they're not in your home. Smart setup can augment existing wireless network.
- CONS: Poor performance as a stand-alone router. Difficult to differentiate devices in network browser. No Web interface.
- BOTTOM LINE: A paradigm shift for the consumer security industry, Bitdefender Box is a piece of hardware that protects every computer, phone, tablet, and smart device on your network. It does a surprisingly good job, considering it's the first device of its kind.
The Bitdefender Box costs $199 and comes with one free year of service. After that, protection costs $99 a year for an unlimited number of devices. The Box isn't cheap, but it actually works out to be quite a bargain: Bitdefender Total Security, for example, covers only three computers for $89. And that doesn't include protection for mobile devices, or Internet of Things devices, either. Once you really start thinking about how many devices connect to your Wi-Fi network, the Box quickly starts to look like a sweet deal.
Extremely small and light, the Bitdefender box measures 1.1 by 3.5 by 3.5 inches (HWD) and weighs a mere 3.25 ounces.It looks like a thicker, white Apple TV$69.00 at Groupon with a downward facing blue LED that gives the front of the Box an otherworldly glow. The comparison to Apple is a compliment to the Box's design, but it was apparently a hard-won success. Bitdefender told us that the process of selecting the materials and finish for the Box was an arduous one, but the effort clearly paid off.
Nexus 5$399.00 at Amazonphone and a Nexus 7$191.00 at Amazon tablet and had no trouble accessing the Box settings that way.
Bitdefender Box has a long list of supported routers. If you have one of those routers, the app will communicate through your Wi-Fi network and set up the Box automatically. Our lab testing environment is powered by a Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band WiFi$299.99 at Dell router and has a variety of devices connected. This router wasn't supported by the Box, but it was included in Bitdefender's manual setup documentation. The entire process of manually configuring the router took about 15 minutes from start to finish. It wasn't particularly challenging, but it did test our patience.
Once set up, we were pleasantly surprised that the device performance impact on a network secured by the Box was so slight. The difference between having the Box on the network and no Box was less than 5 percent, with speeds dropping to 176Mbps, down from 184Mbps at a distance of 15 feet.
Since this is a consumer product, we wanted to see how the experience would be on a typical home's Internet connection and so set up the Box on a residential DSL line at PCMag's secret Brooklyn laboratory. This connection used PPPoE, which Box supposedly supported though we triggered an error every time we entered the username and password. This was one instance where the lack of detail on the app was really frustrating. Some login screens allow you to view your password in plaintext to check for typos. There's no way to do that with the Box app. We cut-pasted the password from LastPass$12.00 at LastPass, keyed it in carefully, and each time we are sure we are giving the correct credentials, all to no avail.
In the end, we tried a cable modem with DHCP. This time, the setup experience was seamless. It's what BitDefender promised, and it delivered.
BitDefender said the company had originally created a Web interface for configuring Box, but decided it was too complicated for users. There is also a good security reason, since putting a Web interface means you are essentially running a (albeit, small) Web server on the device. Dropping the Web interface is a smart security move, but it may be a smidgen ahead of its time.
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