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SonicWALL TZ 150 Wireless Review


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Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £294.00

Small businesses and home users are literally spoilt for choice when it comes to security appliances, with a huge range of products on the market and prices to suit all pockets. Even so, a number of vendors are only now realising the value of integrating even more features into their boxes such as true web content filtering, anti-spam and anti-virus measures.

Billion’s latest MyGuard 7500gl is a prime example as it brings together hosted content filtering and virus protection courtesy of Trend Micro and delivers it all at an affordable price.

However, there are a number of established names that have offered these features for many years and have had plenty of time to hone them to perfection. We saw this in Watchguard’s Firebox X15w ( and now we take a look at SonicWALL’s entry-level security appliance, the TZ 150 Wireless. It’s even smaller than Watchguard’s Firebox but manages to pack in an impressive range of standard and optional features. It kicks off with a single RJ-45 WAN port and a quartet of switched Fast Ethernet LAN ports and performs standard SPI firewall duties. As the name implies it combines 802.11b/g wireless operations and these are also backed up with good security augmented by a few of SonicWALL’s own touches.

The basic appliance supports up to ten users simultaneously accessing the Internet but unlike the Firebox X15w it is not upgradeable. If you think that more than ten people will want to get online you’ll should go for the TZ 170. The TZ 150 does at least have a host of optional features that you can add with SonicWALL’s Security Gateway Suite costing £190, with some features unique to SonicWall. Note that this is an annual fee but for this extra outlay you get hosted web content filtering, gateway anti-virus services, anti-spyware, intrusion detection and prevention and the use of SonicWALL’s Viewpoint reporting software. It certainly looks a tempting package but how well does it all perform and how easy is it to use and manage?

As we’ve always found, SonicWALL makes light work of installation. You just point a web browser at the unit’s default IP address whereupon the appliance automatically loads a wizard for initial configuration. Select the type of operation, decide on your mode of broadband Internet access, activate DHCP services and away you go. The web interface is very easy to use with each function grouped neatly in a side bar for easy selection and another batch of wizards are provided for setting up network access rules, wireless security and VPNs.

Wireless security options are impressive as you can opt for SSID masking, MAC address filtering, intrusion detection and WEP or WPA encryption. You can also enforce the use of wireless IPSec VPNs using a feature called WiFiSec. With the latter activated any wireless client can only access the LAN over an encrypted link ensuring that your data can’t be eavesdropped on even with sniffer software. Even so, setting this up is simple enough. SonicWALL supplies a global VPN client that does all the hard work and even provides a ready made connection profile.

The TZ 150 also offers a Wireless Guest Service (WGS), which protects the wireless to WAN connection by allowing mobile users to have authenticated Internet access. If the appliance spots a wireless client loading a web browser it prompts them for a username and password before creating a secure HTTP session.

Rather than hand it to a third party SonicWALL hosts its own web content filtering and the upgrade price we were quoted provides the Standard service. This includes fourteen common categories that can be blocked wholesale or selectively but if you cough up for the Premium service you get a remarkable sixty four categories to apply.

Another area where SonicWALL goes a lot further than most is that the TZ 150 can help enforce Internet AUPs (acceptable use policies) in the workplace. You’ll need to set up your own web server and add pages outlining your AUP and user consent forms. These are entered in the management interface and the appliance will direct users to them whenever they try to access the Internet. You can enforce filtering or, if you wish, give users the choice of opting out of the filtering service or request that it be applied. During testing we found SonicWALL was easily up with Watchguard’s SurfControl based service with very little slipping through its net.

The gateway anti-virus option can be enabled on any three of the appliance’s interfaces where it will scan web, FTP and email traffic for Internet borne nasties. Outgoing email can also be included as the appliance scans SMTP traffic in both directions. The appliance maintains a signature file internally which can be updated from SonicWALL’s web site regularly but note that you’ll need to purchase the network anti-virus option to protect systems behind the appliance from internally introduced viruses.


The TZ 150 showcases SonicWALL’s experience in security matters to a tee. It may be no bigger than a video cassette but it’s packed full of features that few, if any, vendors can match, let alone beat at this price. Wireless security options are better than most and the Security Gateway Suite upgrade is well worth having for the price. The web content filtering options in particular are far better than those offered by Watchguard and are also geared up to enforce AUPs in the workplace. The price may be more than a standard router but for small businesses of up to ten users or a home worker concerned about security, SonicWALL’s TZ 150 Wireless comes highly recommended.

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