Circle With Disney Reviewed

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dgtlman

Occasional Visitor
What would be nice is knowing how fast can this device do all its functions and what hardware does it have inside. Its nice to know that this isnt just another parental control thing.
I am not sure what the hardware specs are, I know if you have it connected via wifi, it can only process it as fast as your wifi connection. I have a fiber connection with verizon fios. Our connection is a 300 megabit synchronous connection. I have mine circle connected via ethernet, and have never noticed a speed difference. I have done speed tests (with traffic running on the network) with it enabled and disabled.... same speeds either way.
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
What would be nice is knowing how fast can this device do all its functions and what hardware does it have inside. Its nice to know that this isnt just another parental control thing.
What do you mean? It IS a "parental control thing".
 

dgtlman

Occasional Visitor
FYI - Circle Go was recently announced. It is $10 per month for 10 devices. I have not signed up for this yet, so I can not comment on how well it works. But it seems like a reasonable price.
 

tastybento

New Around Here
The only problem with this device is that if the WiFi goes down, the smartphones will cut over to LTE. If the kids don't have phones, then it'll be okay.
 

Alexb

New Around Here
I was really hoping this review would have included some testing and analysis around performance impact. The fact that Disney includes language along the lines of, "...Shouldn't cause noticeable slowdown, but use the ethernet connection if you do notice performance degradation..." makes me concerned. (I was paraphrasing there, but that's the gist of their message)

Has anyone (SNB or otherwise) done any analysis on what kind of impact the Circle can have on a network?
 

Brian Fox

New Around Here
I know this is an old thread, but while doing my own research, this was the closest thing to a technical conversation on Circle. For the archives, I thought I'd add more information since I've done in depth testing now.

I have been looking for a solution to better controls and my wireless solution was getting old and slow. I did extensive testing between the Linksys Velop and the NetGear Orbi. I primarily wanted Orbi to win because it has Circle built in. Unfortunately it really suffers from degraded wifi speeds. At some point I'll probably post my detailed results on this comparison online.

While doing a several week test period on the Orbi, the Circle functionality was an obvious keeper from my POV in terms of managing my son.

Knowing that the standalone Circle device works with Arp Poisoning, I was concerned about the network performance impact and any other weirdness I might see on all the non-kid devices. Conceptually I really preferred the control built into the router as opposed to bouncing traffic off to a second device. I seriously considered getting another, cheaper Netgear router to run Circle on since at best they cost ~$40 more than the standalone Circle device. That price would be worth it to avoid unknown arp / traffic redirection issues. However with the NetGear integration, you have to pay $4.99 a month for the "premium" features that are included with the standalone device purchase...and without those features, the Circle stuff isn't much better than very basic controls included with any router imo. That was enough for me to go buy a Circle device locally to see how it really worked in practice.

The support page at Circle gives a very high level of Arp poisoning but doesn't talk anywhere about when and how this really works in practice... Probably to avoid savy kids from working around it but really for in the weeds techies like me, this can be a turn off.

I looked closely at the traffic using WireShark to understand what's really happening with Circle. I was pleasantly surprised.

In Circle you have a few categories of devices: Unmanaged / Managed. Then in Managed you have different levels. One of those levels is "none". What I discovered is that the Arp poisoning is device and level specific.

The traffic is NOT redirected for Unmanaged devices ever. They talk directly to the router's mac address. Additionally, devices that are managed but set to the "none" level also normally are not redirected. The difference between these two settings is that Managed/None can still be paused either by category or when you "pause" internet for the whole house. When you do this, Circle sends out a ton of Arp traffic to redirect all those devices to it so that the internet is blocked. This takes effect within a few seconds. When you unpause the internet, within a few seconds, the Arp poisoning is undone, and "none" level devices resume talking directly to the router.

Of course, filtered devices are always being redirected to Circle.

So in summary:
unmanaged: traffic is never directed to Circle.
managed / none: traffic is only directed to Circle when the profile or home is paused. When unpaused, the traffic goes back to the router within a few seconds.
managed / all other profiles: traffic is always directed through Circle.

Now, how about performance of the redirected traffic? Shockingly, even on Wifi (with the LinkSys Velop) the impact was less than 1mbps where my internet tops out at 120mbps with no Circle. I saw similar impact using the ethernet cable, but note that this is 100mbps only not GigE so in theory the Wifi should be faster if your Wifi AC AP can handle it efficiently.

For my purposes, even a <1% hit across the board for internet access would be acceptable for the improved visibility and control. Even better is that I can be sure that Circle doesn't interfere with any device I don't want it to... at all.
 

JTravers

New Around Here
I know this is an old thread, but while doing my own research, this was the closest thing to a technical conversation on Circle. For the archives, I thought I'd add more information since I've done in depth testing now.

I have been looking for a solution to better controls and my wireless solution was getting old and slow. I did extensive testing between the Linksys Velop and the NetGear Orbi. I primarily wanted Orbi to win because it has Circle built in. Unfortunately it really suffers from degraded wifi speeds. At some point I'll probably post my detailed results on this comparison online.

While doing a several week test period on the Orbi, the Circle functionality was an obvious keeper from my POV in terms of managing my son.

Knowing that the standalone Circle device works with Arp Poisoning, I was concerned about the network performance impact and any other weirdness I might see on all the non-kid devices. Conceptually I really preferred the control built into the router as opposed to bouncing traffic off to a second device. I seriously considered getting another, cheaper Netgear router to run Circle on since at best they cost ~$40 more than the standalone Circle device. That price would be worth it to avoid unknown arp / traffic redirection issues. However with the NetGear integration, you have to pay $4.99 a month for the "premium" features that are included with the standalone device purchase...and without those features, the Circle stuff isn't much better than very basic controls included with any router imo. That was enough for me to go buy a Circle device locally to see how it really worked in practice.

The support page at Circle gives a very high level of Arp poisoning but doesn't talk anywhere about when and how this really works in practice... Probably to avoid savy kids from working around it but really for in the weeds techies like me, this can be a turn off.

I looked closely at the traffic using WireShark to understand what's really happening with Circle. I was pleasantly surprised.

In Circle you have a few categories of devices: Unmanaged / Managed. Then in Managed you have different levels. One of those levels is "none". What I discovered is that the Arp poisoning is device and level specific.

The traffic is NOT redirected for Unmanaged devices ever. They talk directly to the router's mac address. Additionally, devices that are managed but set to the "none" level also normally are not redirected. The difference between these two settings is that Managed/None can still be paused either by category or when you "pause" internet for the whole house. When you do this, Circle sends out a ton of Arp traffic to redirect all those devices to it so that the internet is blocked. This takes effect within a few seconds. When you unpause the internet, within a few seconds, the Arp poisoning is undone, and "none" level devices resume talking directly to the router.

Of course, filtered devices are always being redirected to Circle.

So in summary:
unmanaged: traffic is never directed to Circle.
managed / none: traffic is only directed to Circle when the profile or home is paused. When unpaused, the traffic goes back to the router within a few seconds.
managed / all other profiles: traffic is always directed through Circle.

Now, how about performance of the redirected traffic? Shockingly, even on Wifi (with the LinkSys Velop) the impact was less than 1mbps where my internet tops out at 120mbps with no Circle. I saw similar impact using the ethernet cable, but note that this is 100mbps only not GigE so in theory the Wifi should be faster if your Wifi AC AP can handle it efficiently.

For my purposes, even a <1% hit across the board for internet access would be acceptable for the improved visibility and control. Even better is that I can be sure that Circle doesn't interfere with any device I don't want it to... at all.
Fantastic post and analysis. Thanks for the info!
 

holland

New Around Here
I have this device and am wondering how remote management of Circle works? Is there a port opened or is there a site that Circle goes to for rules, profiles, etc.? Also, is there a web site access, without app?

The first part, I'm concerned about any openings I may have created by installing the Circle device. Second, I would like to know what data/profiles/etc. is published outside of my network.

Thanks!
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
I have this device and am wondering how remote management of Circle works? Is there a port opened or is there a site that Circle goes to for rules, profiles, etc.? Also, is there a web site access, without app?

The first part, I'm concerned about any openings I may have created by installing the Circle device. Second, I would like to know what data/profiles/etc. is published outside of my network.
Did you read this?
 

DAZ

New Around Here
Great discussion. I have fios gigabit service for internet and TV. FIOS provides the usual "Quantum Gateway" AC1750 Wi-Fi , called a G1100. I'm thinking of getting circle for parental controls. My 12 and 14 year old children use ios phones, ipad and chromebooks.

Should I get the circle device and use it with the G1100 I already have ? Or should I get another router with circle built in? Perhaps a Netgear (R8000-100NAS) Nighthawk X6 AC3200 ?

I'll appreciate advice. Circle device or new router ? If a new router, I'd connect the new router to my G1100 and only give the kids the wifi password for the new router. I'd change the wifi password on the G1100 so kids couldn't use it anymore.
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
If you are happy with your router, then just get the Circle. I would not go for the R8000. It's a very expensive way to get the parental controls you seek.
 

oscarnyc

New Around Here
Great discussion. I have fios gigabit service for internet and TV. FIOS provides the usual "Quantum Gateway" AC1750 Wi-Fi , called a G1100. I'm thinking of getting circle for parental controls. My 12 and 14 year old children use ios phones, ipad and chromebooks.

Should I get the circle device and use it with the G1100 I already have ? Or should I get another router with circle built in? Perhaps a Netgear (R8000-100NAS) Nighthawk X6 AC3200 ?

I'll appreciate advice. Circle device or new router ? If a new router, I'd connect the new router to my G1100 and only give the kids the wifi password for the new router. I'd change the wifi password on the G1100 so kids couldn't use it anymore.
I recognize this is an old thread, but I've been searching to confirm whether the Circle is compatible with the G1100 Quantum Gateway. Did you connect it directly, and if so, did it work well? Or did you end up purchasing another router and connect the Circle to that? Thanks so much.
 

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