Rather than using a range of software tools, the XGate harks back to more traditional security solutions, placing a piece of hardware, which acts as your ADSL router, between your computer and the internet. Gsec1 is touting this to fearful parents as the perfect way to keep children safe while online.

The Xgate offers a high level of security, protecting children by allowing their parents to monitor their chatroom use. It'll even text your mobile or email you if it spots anything untoward, and you can shut down the PC remotely if you're worried.

The device integrates technology to protect you against online banking scams and it will block spyware and spam. It also uses Norman antivirus software. Norman isn't the best-known brand, but it offers a more advanced level of protection than typical home tools.

This all sounds ideal, but our test didn't get off to a good start. Installation is time-consuming - it took us a good half-hour - and complicated, requiring you to enter a great deal of information. In fairness, some of this is necessary for the unique features, such as your mobile number for alerts.

But the installation process was flaky. The system refused to accept the supplied activation code, although it seemed happy with the one we made up - not a good sign in a security product. It also crashed half way through, and required a full restart of the computer and router.

Once installed, the XGate makes every online activity a chore. Even connecting requires several steps. It removes all the convenience of the internet, in exchange for a level of security that's far more than all but the most paranoid home user will need.

XGate: Specs

  • ADSL modem
  • 4-user licence
  • antivirus facilities
  • firewall
  • secure banking
  • identity protection
  • chatroom monitoring
  • remote access
  • spam control
  • time controls for website access
  • ADSL modem
  • 4-user licence
  • antivirus facilities
  • firewall
  • secure banking
  • identity protection
  • chatroom monitoring
  • remote access
  • spam control
  • time controls for website access

OUR VERDICT

The problem with a product such as this is that it cashes in on people's fears instead of allaying them. The level of security it provides is overkill - and expensive, annoying overkill at that. Technology is no substitute for good parenting, and it should not be marketed as such. There are cheaper and more effective ways to keep your kids safe online.

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