SonicWall has three new products that combine wireless security and firewalls and, the company says, make deep-packet inspection firewalls affordable for smaller offices. Each includes VPN and firewall protection for wireless LANs and has a back-up modem if the main Internet link fails.

"Our strategy is to bring in new features at a lower price," said Mike Smart, European product manager. "Last year, in the TZW we bundled a wireless access point. We introduced IPsec, and the enforcement of IPsec. Now, the TZ170 has deep packet inspection."

SonicWall has added a wireless access point and modem backup to the TZ170 family, introduced last year. The TZ170 includes a firewall and VPN gateway, a WAN port and a five-port 10/100 Ethernet switch. A sixth port supports a second broadband WAN connection, and a seventh can be configured as a second LAN port or to support auxiliary wireless access points.

The wireless and failover features are options. The TZ170 SP ("Smart Path") includes a standard 56Kbit/s analogue modem to support dial backup if its broadband Internet link fails. TZ170 Wireless has an integrated wireless access point that supports 802.11b and 802.11g, the two most common Wi-Fi standards. The TZ170 SP Wireless has - you guessed it - both the wireless AP and the modem.

"There is no demand for 802.11a," said Smart. In security, the product supports the 802.11i standard also known as WPA2. The product can run from power over Ethernet, so it can be installed in the ceiling without a dedicated power outlet. Despite the falling prices of power-over-Ethernet (see our review of NetGear's effort), small offices may still not have a PoE switch, in which case they need a power injector inline with the Ethernet LAN cable feeding the device.

SonicWall is also introducing Pocket Global VPN Client, a version of its VPN client software for handheld devices, that runs on Microsoft's Pocket PC 2003 operating system. It is intended to allow PDA users connect to business networks from public wireless hotspots without endangering business resources.

Jason Wright, an analyst with Frost & Sullivan says the dial backup is a rare feature among low-end VPN gear. The devices compete with wired/wireless devices from Fortinet. and WatchGuard, and wired devices from Check Point, Cisco Systems and Juniper (Netscreen). The closest competitor for small-office gear is WatchGuard, and it is the only competitor that has the wireless/VPN firewall combination, said Wright.

The standard TZ 170 costs £320, the TZ 170 Wireless costs £580 for 25 users, and the TZ 170 SP costs £450 for 10 users. The TZ 170 SP Wireless, costing £580 for 10 users is due to ship in August.