Big Abilities, Small Package
Internet appliances that provide network and Internet capabilities for small or regional offices come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from the distinctive Cobalt Qube to familiar tower shapes to rack-mountable units. Coming in on the smaller side of these devices is Celestix Networks Aries appliance, which is close to the size of most computer speakers.
The Aries provides a full list of features such as file sharing, a Web server, a POP or IMAP mail server, a VPN through PPTP, and a basic firewall, as well as DNS, NAT and DHCP. And at $999, the Aries is priced competitively with most other small-office Internet appliances.
The Aries setup is unique. Most appliances require either a direct PC connection or a special installation program to configure the device. The Aries has a built-in LCD panel on the front that lets you do the initial setup, such as configuring the IP address.
I found this to be very useful, but it did have one flaw: It had trouble accepting IP addresses with fewer than 12 digits in some subnets, depending on how the subnet was set up.
Also, although the Aries includes all the core appliance features, many of the management choices lack configuration options.
More information about the Aries is at www.celestix.com.