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Ron Ridley Auto Care Mall

"AlphaShield is a plug & play Internet privacy protection device for 'always on' broadband Internet connections. AlphaShield requires no set-up, no configuration and no maintenance, providing the highest level of security available today." - AlphaShield

You may notice I emphasized that the device is 'plug & play' in the above quote from the AlphaShield Website? The reason I did that was because this device takes on a whole new meaning of 'plug & play'. Complete installation instructions can be summed up something like - open the box, plug the device in and surf the net safely. Seriously ... that's it! There isn't any software to install or configure and it really doesn't matter what platform you are using. Perhaps the only possible way to make this installation go any faster would be to package it in a normal box. It did take longer to figure out how to open the odd shaped box without destroying it than it took to actually install the device.

I was excited to have the opportunity to be able to test this unit out and then realized that with no software to tell me its working how would I know it is doing anything at all? Sure there are all kinds of Websites out there that can test your system to see how secure it is, but I wanted to know if it was actually blocking intrusions 'before' it got anywhere near my computer. Well, I was already using Norton Internet Security on my system and it does show me the constant intrusions on my computer in it's log files and alerts. So I cleared the alerts and logs and let the AlphaShield do it's thing. Four days later - a completely empty intrusion log. Huge advantage for the AlphaShield for blocking the intrusions before they get to my computer - not once it reaches the computer.

The unit itself is also very small in size and takes up very little space on your desk or wherever you decide to hid it. It's small enough that it is handy and easy to transport even for laptop users. My suggestion is to have it located somewhere easily accessible. The switched settings on the back are manual (15), auto and lock. UltraShield recommends “manual (15)”, where it disconnects you after 15 minutes of inactivity. “Auto” leaves you connected until you hit the disconnect button on top and “lock” disconnects you entirely (all 3 lights are red). Only the middle light is red with the other two settings when you are disconnected. I will admit that this was a new concept for me as I couldn't quite grasp the idea, as someone who was 'always online' as to why I would want my system to disconnect after 15 minutes? Isn't that one of the big reasons why I got away from dial up? While it does totally disconnect you from the Internet in the recommended setting, unlike dial up, to get connected again, simply hit a button on top of the unit and you are back online instantly. I didn't care for that at first, but after a few days of having it, I found it to be a big a big help in achieving piece of mind knowing that my computer was completely safe.

The only other problem that I did encounter was the fact that you cannot voice or video chat while using the shield. You must move your connection to the 'AUX' connection on the unit in order to use those means of communication. But during that time, your computer is not protected.

While that may be one disadvantage, the advantages of being protected before any intrusions reach your computer and the ability to automatically or even manually disconnect from the Internet with the push of a button are huge pluses that far outwiegh the one small negative.

On closing, if I could make a suggestion to the people from AlphaShield - I'd suggest:

The unit is really 'idiot-proof'. But you know what they say .... "Build something idiot-proof and they'll build a bigger idiot." I spent a few days wondering why my computer would be getting knocked offline and even spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out why I wasn't getting anywhere on the net after the first time the unit disconnected me automatically. I know it's likely in the manual, but when something installs that easily, who reads manuals? It wasn't until after I contacted the company that I even found out about the different settings on the switch located on the back of the unit. I would suggest a small label underneath or even a tag attached from the factory that explains and points out those settings in basic form.

At first the price of $199 CDN ($129 USD) seemed a bit high, but for the protection it offers is worth every bit and more. Afterall that price pales in comparison to what the files and information on my system are worth to me. I would highly recommend this unit.

Review ID Number: 442
  Product Details
Review Date: 2002-06-27
Reviewer: Brad Lawryk
Rating: 9 out of 10
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