FlashTheRouter - Is it worth it or not

Today I got asked if its worth to use and FlashtheRouter.com.

The website is more or less beginner friendly and written explicitly so that most people directly understand what they are offering, basically a router setup that comes pre-installed with some stuff that you can unlock with monthly subscription model, e.g. their integrated VPN.

VPN
The first thing I noticed is that Mullvad VPN is maybe cheaper, you pay like bucks for a month. This prices is fixed no matter how long you run it, 1 month bucks, 2 months 10 and so on, no condition. However they offer a model that charges different prices based on how long you choose to subscribe. This is the first negative point for me.

Xiaomi C4/A4 routers
They called it solid, I call it spyware, I am not a friend of Xiaomi and they got accused - with evidence - several times to spy, in theory this should not be a problem because the router comes with OpenWRT preinstalled which means there is no Xiaomi except maybe the needed drivers and the hardware itself. But I personally do not trust Xiaomi, not the hardware not the software and with software I also include their own drivers.

I also do not like the router design but that is my own taste.

Website without real contact data, privacy policy or terms of service - No trust
The website has absolute no real contact info, you do not know who you are dealing with. There is no privacy policy for the website itself and no terms of service which is shady if you sell something.

The website uses a LetsEncrypt certificate, I also use it but this is unprofessional for a business that makes lots of cash and money by selling some products and services. It means this was quickly created, even tho there are no tracker on the website itself this implies maybe that this is designed to not last long. Which usually rings a alarm bell because scammers and shady business partners might cash grab you and then leave no evidence and traces behind, I do not imply this is the case but I am always skeptical why a business company cannot effort 200 bucks a year for a professional certificate.

Not much details mentioned
The website is way too minimalistic, not much details … what about updates, upgrades, or what if the hardware has some failures… unanswered questions.

Other people report some problems with it
Some people report problems with it, of course this could be one single incident, the statistical margin of error sort of speak but such a new company this does not imply competence.

However, after some more quick research I found more complaints.

Sadly its even worse, there are no reviews at all. See below.

My conclusion

Do it yourself, your learn something, in the process and you can freely choose - better - hardware, you also can return the router if something happens, its not illegal to flash OpenWRT onto your hardware, so warranty wise there should be no issue.

I do not trust such a website and the whole thing feels like yet another cash grab. This is basically my first and last impression about the website and service they offer.

I got an reply today via Twitter, which I of course will address.

Hello thanks for that link and review.

There are couple of points that need to be corrected.

  1. We are based on Surfshark so the same privacy policy appy to us

  2. Xiaomi C4/A4 routers - we don’t use their firmware, in fact we reflash the router with an open source openWrt firmware that you can interact with and see for yourself.

  3. Other people report some problems with it These were not us, they are talking about flashrouters.com and not us.

Please review what I mentioned and update the article it means a great deal to us.

ps: We are a very small company (still starting) and want to improve based on feedbacks like yours.

  1. Without writing some terms, privacy policy down on the website no user will get aware of this. So my point stands correct, there is simply nothing written down on the page at the time I reviewed it. I expect that this will be added on the page and not only with some links to SurfShark, I expect that they will introduce their own policies so that people can hold them on their own standards they are offering.

  2. OpenWRT still provides drivers, some of them might be coming from Xiaomi or are back-ported which can be a risk or a concern. There is simply no audit, review or comment on how often specific things getting updates or not. I expect that the website will mention more details if the user needs to manually update the firmware or if that is an automated process and what drivers are exactly included because I found multiple for the same devices embedded into OpenWRT. This is important to know before I actually going to buy a product.

  3. The reviews are confusing. I agree, there is a name discrepancy but they point to the actual website. If its not even the same company behind then its worse as you can NOT find no reviews at all. You need some legitimate reviews otherwise no one knows exactly if you can trust them or not.

I think they should update their website, make things more transparent. People like to know background details before they randomly buy a product.