Purpose: Portable privacy protection
Model: Original, Fawkes, Tunneler, and Pro
Technology: Tor and VPN (Tunneler and Pro)
VPN Service: HMA Pro (Free for 30 days)
Refund Policy: 30 day money back guarantee
Retail Price: From $79.99 – $119.99
Available at: Amazon and Newegg
Welcome to our review of Anonabox. Obviously, this review will be different from others because we are reviewing hardware instead of software. If you are not sure what Anonabox is, we will take a few moments to explain. Anonabox is a multiple use internet privacy and web browsing tool. It is designed for those that want extra security, and by connecting through the device, you can browse safely without the worry of your data getting compromised. Anonaboxes are very lightweight, and intended to be portable. It is small enough to fit in your pocket.
Pricing for Anonabox depends on the model you receive. Their product line contains 4 different models. The Original is a Tor hardware router, and lists for $79.99. The next product is the Fawkes, and lists for $89.99. The Tunneler is the next step up, and lists for $99.99. Their top of the line model is the Anonabox Pro, and it lists for $119.99. We will explain the differences between these four products in a moment. They are all different, and each has it’s own features. Anonabox will accept returns if you notify them within 30 days of receipt and the device is returned in the original packaging. However, the user is responsible for shipping costs.
The Original Anonabox is a Tor embedded, Plug and Play router. It is designed to plug in to any router or ethernet connection and has wifi ability to add an extra layer of security and privacy to browsing activities. It has a hard coded password, so there is no setup required. You simply plug it in and you can use it immediately. The Fawkes Anonabox is the next step up, and it features an advanced user interface that will let you personalize your wireless signal name and password. Additionally, the Fawkes box has wifi uplink capability. That will enable you to access the public Wifi at your favorite hotspot anonymously. It also provides a Tor relay and bridge, as well as a network range extension. The third product in this line is the Tunneler. This device is labeled a VPN router, and because of a partnership with one of the most well known VPN providers, has the software integrated in to the device. The last device in Anonabox’s line is the Pro model. This model has many of the same features as the Tunneler, but the Pro model features an upgraded processor, 8 x more ram, and a USB port for file sharing. Though HideMyAss (HMA) is the VPN company they partnered with, you can use any third party VPN service. There are more features mentioned on the website, if you want to see more, and there is also a buyers guide listed there as well.
From a performance perspective, you need to take into account the purpose for using an Anonabox. It is designed to provide security, not necessarily for blinding speeds. If you look at the numbers from that aspect, using high speed internet will still give you reasonable numbers.
First, the base line speed test.
Next, the speed through the device.
Finally, the speed using the Anonabox with HMA.
As we said, the speeds may not be blazing, but if you care about your privacy, performance may not be your top priority. The last step shows a speed that would be sufficient in doing most things. One thing we also like is the very minimal ping increase with full protection on. Any speed loss you may encounter is made up for by the amount of privacy you will receive.
Security and Privacy
Since Anonabox products are all about privacy and security, we will discuss the technologies used. If you are at this point in the review, the chances are you already know about them, but we will talk about them anyway. Whether it is embedded like in the Original, or bridged and relayed as in the Pro version, Anonabox uses Tor technology. The insignia for Tor is an onion, and that is used to symbolize the multiple layers involved in Tor. More specifically, Tor is free software in an open network that is designed to provide better security and anonymity to the user. The Tor network is a group of volunteer operated servers that allows the user to connect through a series of paths instead of directly. It allows both regular users and companies to share information without compromising privacy. The Tor network also provides a good way to get around censorship regulations, if you live in or are visiting a country that censors websites. We won’t go in to more detail, but there are entire websites devoted to the topic. Additionally, you may run Tor with VPN security and encryption on the Tunneler and Pro version.
Anonabox has several methods of support. Those include a ticketing system, a knowledge base, live chat, phone number, and interestingly enough, an address in case you want to stop by the office. They are always available by email, but if you want to talk to someone live, they are only available from 8am – 5pm PST, Monday – Friday. During that time though, all methods are acceptable. The manuals for the devices are located on their website so if you purchase an Anonabox, you do not have to go blind trying to read the small printed booklets that come with it.
The Anonabox may be set up on almost every device, since all that is needed to connect is a WiFi connection or ethernet port. You can enjoy your Anonabox on anything, but remember the loss of speed.
The process of buying an Anonabox is what you would expect from any tech company. In the image below, you can see the different fields including shipping address and payment methods. Those fields are pretty standard across the board. Here, we have chosen the Pro model to show the screen.
Buying a device is a simple, straight forward process that won’t take long. Just answer a few questions, and you are on your way. Anonabox accepts credit cards, PayPal, and Bitcoin.
How to Use Anonabox
In this demonstration, we used the Pro model, but the software is much the same for the Fawkes, Tunneler, and Pro versions. According to the website, there is no setup required for the original. If you do plan on getting one of the other 3, be sure to read the instructions first. Without reading, you could do more harm than good. Also, if you are tech savvy, this process will go more easily for you. This is a brief overview, and the real version is available on their site, as well as being sent to you in booklet form. However, you may want to open or download it before you start, because the print in the pamphlet is extremely small.
After plugging in the device to your computer, make sure you can see the device in the available networks. Before selecting the device, make sure you have saved anything you needed to save from the web, because you change networks by using the device.
- Open a browser, and go to their internal website. Realize that you have to leave the password blank first before you can go into the interface. Make sure to change it.
- Once you are in, go to network and select Wifi.
- In the wireless overview, you can scan for networks or add them.
- After selecting the correct one, you can edit the connection name, the encryption type, and the Wifi password, simply go to general setup.
- Proceeding with all these steps means it is time to connect to the net.
- Go back to Wifi as noted by the red arrow, and under the wireless overview, you should now get the option to join a network. Enter your password or phrase, and you should be connected. Don’t change the data shown in the ‘Interface Configuration’ section. This info is auto populated. Changing those settings could mean you would not be able to connect.
Now you should be connected, but if you have any issues, there are troubleshooting tips, or you can contact them directly. Again, this is an abbreviated version of the process, but we feel it gives you a good baseline.
Favorite Features of Anonabox:
- Extra security on virtually any device
- Ability to run Tor and VPN service simultaneously (on some models)
- Extremely light and portable
Thoughts to improve Anonabox:
- Make setup easier
- Include default password and force change on first login
- Increase speeds
The Anonabox is a wonderful concept, but you need to have some technical ability and have to follow the directions. Otherwise, you could cause yourself some problems. We found the troubleshooting guide good, and support will answer any additional questions you may have. Running your activities through the box is slow, but for privacy minded individuals, it is worth it. Just make sure you take the time to set it up correctly. Once it is set up, configuring the device gets easier, and It will provide you portable and additional security through almost any device you connect to the internet with.