Review: SmartAX MT882 wired ADSL modem/router - Update
Don Bradbury has another look at this basic ADSL unit and meets a potential problem
|Product||MT882 wired ADSL modem/router|
|Price||Now Free at sign-up, or £29.99 to buy later
(Wireless alternative: £20 at sign-up, or £49.99 to buy later)
|We like||Choice of Ethernet or USB connectivity, effective hardware Firewall|
|We don't like||Single PC connection|
TalkTalk, as we previously reported, started shipping this inexpensive, wired USB or Ethernet modem/router as a replacement for their standard offering, the SpeedTouch 330 ADSL modem. The MT882 worked well enough for us on the review machine via either its USB connection or its Ethernet port, but we have to report that when we tried to install it via USB to a different computer, we failed to establish a satisfactory connection. Here are a few pointers for those who may find themselves in a similar position.
Connection and setup of the hardware, as we reported in our original review, is straight forward enough using the web-based interface, but as with so many aspects of the communications scene in computing, it may not always work under every conceivable condition. Such was our dilemma.
So we swallowed our pride and enlisted the aid of TalkTalk's technical department, though we have to admit that we pulled some reviewer's strings in that our particular techie contact was UK-based, not your standard offshored support and the problems so often encountered therein.
We were, first of all, talked through the basic settings to confirm that all was as intended. This included the VPI/VCI setting of 0/38, that PPPoA was chosen, and that VCMUX was selected correctly in the setup dialogue.
We were asked to click on the magnifying glass icon that you can see in setup so as to extend the range of setup options and review the additional range of configuration where the MTU setting could be modified. Here we were asked to drop the default 1432 setting - which has been found, for some installations, to be too fast - to 1400. This did not improve things. Then we dropped the setting to 1350, which was still no better but has apparently proved a success for others. "Not much point in dropping this setting further", we were told. But this is worth a try.
A few Ping tests were carried out as directed, but these only proved that the connection was not set up correctly.
Internet Explorer problems?
We were then directed to uninstall Internet Explorer, and reinstall it, fearing that our working copy might be damaged. It's possible; IE gets a lot of hammer on many PCs, and any crashes to which your installation may have been subjected can leave a broken app, with little evidence that this was so.
There's a special routine posted by Microsoft on the web that gives directions on how to uninstall IE and reinstall it. Enter "uninstall Internet Explorer" (without the quotes) into Google and follow the directions for your particular operating system. You may, following this routine, end up with your original, earlier version of IE, but you can then download the correct version and write it to your disk over the top of the version you reinstalled to.
This, we have to report, also failed to improve our SmartAX MT882 setup.
Finally, our ever helpful and patient TalkTalk technical guru admitted that some never succeed in getting the USB connection of this modem to work on their particular PC. It simply seems to be incompatible with certain computers. No reasons were offered, or sought, since it was clear that the reasons were unknown.
However, we have our own ideas, for what they are worth. We highlight the main point here then, not necessarily in an endeavour to solve the riddle but merely in an attempt to allay any frustrations that may be out there, leaving you wondering why your installation doesn't work when that of others does.
Possible USB connectivity issues
We can report that, over the years, certain manufacturers for whom we have reviewed USB devices have proffered the advice that USB, being an imperfect beast - a point we have made repeatedly in these pages - does not always enumerate correctly. That's to say, in the face of a number of USB devices and their drivers already on the PC, it may fail to load said drivers in the correct order, leaving them to conflict with each other and causing one of their clients to fail to work.
We've had manufactures say that, when testing their products prior to release, "would be please remove any other USB devices first, and uninstall their drivers; that's what we do when testing our products. We burn a virgin copy of the OS onto the disk before testing." Well, that may be a neat workaround for them, but it's hardly a solution for the rest of us who won't want to uninstall our USB dongles from our carefully set up computer. "USB can be very problematic when many devices are contending for bandwidth and some devices simply will not enumerate correctly", they have said.
The entire process of detection, configuration, and enumeration of multiple USB devices can be, for sure, quite complicated, though we're not suggesting that this can be the only possible difficulty with the SmartAX MT882 device. If you finally find yourself with an unworkable USB connection to this modem, write it off to experience and use the Ethernet connection instead. That would be our advice.
That's a far safer bet anyway, not to mention superior not only in terms of connectivity but also, potentially, speed. These days you can even add Gigabit Ethernet adaptors for very little. They may not give you super-fast Internet connections, but the potential for superior file transfer speeds is at least there until the day arrives when everything runs at 1000Mbps. Hasten the day!