Have you ever seen “The Truman Show” with Jim Carey or “The Net” starring Sandra Bullock? It may seem like science fiction and far off but we are actually living in a sort of Truman show world. Wherever you go on the Internet you are being watched and studied, researched and hunted. Have you ever gone to Facebook and saw the item that you just looked at on Amazon? When you type a search, Amazon will record the history and IP address and link that to the account that is logged into their system. This builds a representation of you and the items you are interested in and thus the ads that they should show you. Through cookies and data tracking, your information is tracked, copied and shared with other companies. Truthfully, between Google, Facebook and Amazon, there is nowhere you can go on the internet that they do not know. You do not have to log into a public WiFI to have data security issues when your internet service provider and websites are tracking your data and internet footsteps. Others can capture your data and without knowing it, you are giving them information about how long you’re on a page, what you’re looking at, what you bypass, what interests you, what you buy, how many times etc? You can turn off the advertising preference feature within Amazon but you will have to do set this on every browser that you have used. Although likely harmless, they can be annoying or perhaps embarrassing. You can prevent the retargeting using a VPN.
I have tried a few VPNs apps such as Tunnel Bear, PIA VPN as well as Nord VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows your IP address to be replaced with one from a VPN provider and adds both security and privacy to any network, both private and public. This process creates a very secure tunnel through the VPN protocols. This process hides your IP address, provides communication encryption and allows you to surf the internet. When data is transferred over the internet, it is broken down into packets, which can be captured and reviewed. The Hide.me website relates the benefits of a VPN to placing an open letter into an envelope to prevent prying eyes from reading it. The VPN tunnel cloaks the data, internet history, etc. This becomes even more important when utilizing public WiFi hotspots, as others can see what you do on the internet, passwords and any other data that is transferred. Norton security claims that “six in ten consumers believe using public Wi-Fi is riskier than using a public restroom.” They also provide a few suggestions to help you choose a good VPN: 1. Do they respect your privacy? 2. Do they run the most current protocols? 3. Do they set data limits?. 4. Where are the servers located? 5. Will you be able to set up VPN access on multiple devices? 6. What happens if the VPN goes down?
The INVIXBOX arrived in a 6 1/2 inches tall by 4 3/4 inches wide by 1 3/4 inches thick black box with a white slipcover. The cover displays an image of a thin black rectangular device, reminiscent of a portable LiPo battery. Beneath the image, you will see some of the benefits of the device: charge your mobile devices, protect privacy, stream restricted TV and 2 months premium VPN service included. The reverse side of the packaging shows a diagram of the technology. The internet signal is received by the INVIXBOX and then you can access the INVIZBOX as if you were accessing a hotspot. The packaging promises easy setup, nothing to install, ad blocker features, ability to access restricted TV with fast, no log VPN service, the ability to recharge portable devices and the ability to extend your WiFi network if needed. The device provides a 5000 mAh battery (4000 mAh available for charging assuming 80% efficiency), an 880 MHz Dual core processor, 300 Mbps Fast WiFI and charging at 1.5A via USB A. Assuming an 1821 mAh battery for the iPhone 8, 2675 mAh for the 8 Plus, 1960 mAh for the iPhone 7, 2900 mAh for the iPhone 7 plus and the 2716 mAh iPhone X battery, you can get 1–1.5 charges on your smartphone with the 4000 mAh available charge. For a portable device, the Invizibox promises a lot in a small package.
Removing the outer slipcover, I was a bit disappointed to see the plain black box with black INVIZBOX logo on the cover. The device functions made up for this shortcoming, however. The lightweight, 4.9-ounce, device measures 2 3/4 inches wide by 5 1/8 inches tall by 3/8 inches thick and has a single USB-A output and a USB-micro input. Beneath the device, you will find a 39 1/2 inch USB A to USB-micro cable, a 5 1/2 inches long by 3 3/8 inches tall by 3/4 inches thick neoprene carry bag, WiFi password card, quickstart and a troubleshooting guide. The neoprene carry bag, with its 7-inch zipper along the top, is perfectly sized to house the INVIZBOX. The outer and inner surfaces have a pleasing tactile feel of a dry wetsuit. The bag is just big enough to house the device but will not hold the USB cable. The quick start guide is helpful and very well written, providing a good mix of diagram and text.
To turn on/off the device, simply press the black logo on the surface for two seconds. The surface button is not a touch panel, rather it will require a click inward. Along the left side of the INVIZBOX is a bank of 4 LED that will show the power status: 1 LED 0–25% battery, 2 LED 26–50% battery, 3 LED 51–75% battery, all 4 LED 76–100% battery. The battery did come precharged as promised along the top right of the package, with 3 LED visible upon initial inspection. There is a WIFI logo along the right upper side of INVIZBOX that has a red LED behind it. Once the LED is solid red (about 60 seconds), you can navigate to settings on your smart device, and then select INVIZBOX-GO and enter the password that was included on the INVIZBOX card. This password was not correct and did not work. I turned to support.invizbox.com website and reviewed their instructions. To reset the box, press the button labeled “RESET” on the side with a paperclip. The LED behind the WIFI logo will flash green, then turn off and then illuminate red again. This worked the second time and I was able to enter 10.153.146.1 into my safari navigator to access the device features. I was able to rename the connection and to change the password. Next, I was able to select my home network and to enter the password to connect to WiFi.
Once you complete the WiFi password step, you will be taken to a VPN screen and you will be required to input a VPN password and email. I checked the packaging, checked the INVIZBOX quick start guide and the troubleshooting guide and I did not find my VPN credentials. The included card stated to check my email and the website said if purchased before 10/2017 the VPN credentials were emailed and if after 10/2017 they were included. I did email the company and they responded within 24 hours detailing the steps to add the VPN to the device. They re-emailed me the login information and then I was successfully able to utilize the VPN service. From within the app, you can select the country of interest and then from a variety of regional options. I chose USA, Chicago and then a random option from that state. I was able to log into my work WiFI and was able to use the VPN service easily. My home network was added, the password entered and I was able to utilize the device at home as well. During use, the device will get rather hot to touch but will not likely get hot enough to burn unless you place it into a pocket or bag. On my Xfinity blast home network, I ran a speed test with and without the VPN running. I also changed to a variety of VPN locations. I was able to get 89Mbps download and 11Mbps upload using my Linksys Velop router speed test. Using the speedof.me website, I was only able to see a max of 6Mbps, which is markedly slower than my own network. I was unable to find any settings that would speed this up. Again, deactivating the VPN service or hooking into my regular WiFi network, I was able to get 94.19 Mbps download and up to 9.12 Mbps on multiple tests. The box promises up to 300 Mbps transfer speeds. To be fair, this speed decrease can be caused by multiple factors such as your ISP, number of jumps, traffic etc.
To further test the device, I wanted to know if my IP address was hidden and to make sure that there were no obvious leaks. I navigated to DNSleaktest.com to test the leaks and then to whatismyIPaddress.com to test as well. Both sites said that the VPN information was secure. When I turned off the VPN and navigated to whatismyIPaddress.com, I was able to see my IP address. When activated, the VPN did block my IP address from being displayed. Having minimal experience with TOR, I did not utilize this mode. Within the device is another accessible feature called WiFi Range Extender. My office at work is at the end of a very long hall. The WiFi signal only reaches about the middle of the building and leaves me without WiFi, if I sit at my desk. Placing the Invizbox at the edge of the building WiFi, I was able to get internet to my office, roughly 60–70 steps away. This feature cannot be used with VPN but does add another prominent perk to the device. I did notice a small drop in speed, but this was better than no connection. Also, this drop was not as bad as the drop that I saw with the VPN. I ran the test on other WifI networks as well, all of them had some loss of speed but I gained a great deal of protection. I will not be gaming or streaming much with this system, but I can check emails, surf the web etc and know that I am much safer.
InvizBox GO has partnered with IP Vanish, a very well known no log VPN. You can utilize over 500 servers, across 20 countries, to keep your data safe and secure, block adds, access sites that may be region locked, etc. As stated above, the device has a lot of features in a small shell. It is amazing to have a VPN, TOR and range extender device in a single shell. The device has a 10-hour runtime, which is perfect for travel. The benefit of this device extends well beyond the VPN. If you are in a pinch, you can charge your smart device using the InvizBox. Utilizing my DROK USB multimeter, I was able to prove that the device was capable of charging my iPhone X at 1.5 A and my iPad Air 2 at 1.5A. There is only one output port and you can only charge 1 device at a time. This will significantly alter the amount of time that you have available for the VPN/range extender feature, however. It did have passthrough, allowing you to charge the device and your phone simultaneously. Lastly, and at a convenience to the consumer, it automatically changes your HTTP:// searches to https:// if they exist. The device will auto-update if connected to an internet source, as well. This is yet another great feature. I truly look forward to April 2018 and to see what the Invizbox Pro 2 models bring to the table. Until then, I will enjoy the INVIZBOX GO when I travel.
I would rate the device at 4/5 stars. The VPN service is a subscription and you will need to decide if this is something that you wish to continue.
BUY FROM AMAZON
Originally published at macsources.com on December 15, 2017.