With more and more connected devices ending up in the hands of younger and younger kids, security and peace of mind is at the forefront for any parent. Our KoalaSafe review takes a look at a wireless access point that can be used to restrict your kids access to apps and the Internet based on parameters you set up.
The KoalaSafe is a layer 2 wireless access point and switch (also known as a “bridge”), and devices connected to the KoalaSafe are on the same network as your main router. It does not provide DHCP services. It is an easy-to-use family-friendly WIFI access point, which allows you to protect and manage all devices from one mobile device interface, turn off Internet access at specific times, and block inappropriate sites and apps.
What’s in the Box
- 1x KoalaSafe Router
- 1x micro-USB Cable
- 1x USB Power Adapter
- 1x Network Cable
- 1x Quick Start Card
The KoalaSafe wireless access point (WAP) has a pretty basic and non-descript design. A small white box, it features a WAN, LAN, and micro-USB power connection port on the back, and a USB port, reset button, switch, and ventilation port on one side, with a ventilation port on the other. The USB port and switch are reserved for future use, and currently have no functionality, and the ventilation ports are simply for ventilation as it is a lower power device and doesn’t even have a fan. The top of the WAP features the KoalaSafe logo, beneath that are three LED lights which indicate Power, LAN, and Wi-Fi connections.
Ease of Use
KoalaSafe is pretty simple to set up. Simply plug it in with the micro-USB cable and USB power adapter, then connect the included network cable from the WAN port on the KoalaSafe device to an open LAN port on your existing router. Next, download the iOS or Android app, create a KoalaSafe account, pair your device to the KoalaSafe WAP and away you go. There’s a pretty detailed setup guide on the KoalaSafe website as well in case you run into issues. In our case, it was very easy to set up and we had no issues.
The heart of the KoalaSafe functionality is through the iOS or Android app. Once you’ve setup the KoalaSafe and connected it to your smartphone or tablet, you can set the Wi-Fi password for the KoalaSafe network. You then create a group, or multiple group, profile through the app and once you’ve joined your kids devices to the KoalaSafe network, assign them to the appropriate group. Each group starts off with a default group of settings based on the youngest age you specify for the group, and each group allows you to allow or block various settings which include:
- Schedule: Set specific hours each day in which devices can access the Internet.
- App and Site Blocking: Allows you to allow, allow with safe search, partially block, or block sites and apps that allow advertising, app stores, file sharing, gaming, images (sites and apps that allow uploading and sharing of images), news, search engines, shopping, social media, videos, and webmail. Adult, malicious, proxies/vpns, and violent content is blocked by default, as well as sites that allow the creation of custom personal websites.
Each section in the App and Site Blocking filters have default apps or websites like reddit, Google search, Facebook, Instagram, Kik, Skype, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp, and others. Many of these will only be allowed if you allow them and the age of the group you’ve set up meets the minimum age requirement of that service, for example 13+ for Facebook. The nice thing about the KoalaSafe is you can set up multiple groups for different ages and add devices accordingly, assuming each child has their own devices. In addition, you can set the default security level between high (the most difficult to bypass and blocks the most apps), medium (some apps will still be incompatible), and low (compatible with the broadest range of apps and services). During our testing we left it on the default medium setting and it worked just fine for our purposes. You can also specifically add sites that are allowable, which will bypass the security settings you have set up.
The KoalaSafe app also allows you to track and monitor usage. The usage portion of the app breaks it down by category, and you can drill into each category to get a more detailed look at what apps and sites are being accessed. You can also set a time period to monitor which includes the past 5 minutes, the last hour, last 24 hours, today, yesterday, or the last 7 days.
You can also restart and shut down the KoalaSafe WAP from the app. One thing that would be nice to be able to do but you can’t currently is to set a custom name for Wi-Fi access.
The KoalaSafe WAP works well enough, although it is quite a bit slower than my main router. I usually get speeds of 25Mbps+ while connected on the 2.4GHz band, and 45Mbps+ while connected on the 5GHz band. While connected to the KoalaSafe, those speeds drop down to about 15Mbps, but upstream speeds still hit 5Mbps (which is the max from my ISP). That being said, the speeds on the KoalaSafe are still fast enough that there weren’t any issues streaming video, using apps, or the Internet.
As far as I could tell during testing, it also did a fantastic job of restricting access to the apps and sites that we’d set up as being blocked for our kids. After trying to use a few different sites and apps that had been set up as restricted and not being able to access them, I’m pretty confident that the KoalaSafe does a decent job of restricting access to harmful content as per how you set it up. Although the KoalaSafe assists with restricting access, it only works as well as you set it up and depending on what you allow or block there will still be a chance that you may still encounter undesirable content while connected through the KoalaSafe. Nothing is perfect, but the KoalaSafe did indeed restrict the content that we set it up to block without any issues.
The Internet access schedule works great as well, and as a bonus you can temporarily block all Internet access, or add extra time through the app. The app can also be used anywhere once you have it set up, so you don’t even need to be home in order to kill Internet access, extend it, or configure additional sites for access or blocking. According to the KoalaSafe website, the company also has plans to add per-site and per-app specific time limits as well, which will only increase the functionality of the device.
With a regular price of $129.99USD, the KoalaSafe is currently on sale for $99.99 on the company website and Amazon. Sure it’s a simple little device, but coupled with the free iOS and Android app is a powerful tool for restricting and monitoring your kid’s Internet activity, and $100 is a small price to pay for some peace of mind when it comes to kids accessing the Internet these days.
If you’re looking for a solution that will help you restrict Internet and app access as well as set time limits as to when the Internet can be accessed by your children, the KoalaSafe is a great little wireless access point that is easy to set up and configure, and does a great job of giving you a little more peace of mind as a parent.
*We were sent a review sample of the KoalaSafe Router for the purposes of this review.
Last Updated on August 16, 2016.