I had given some thought to a hardware firewall before. Are they all about the same, quality and pricewise? As well as setup?
Both hardware and software firewalls have benefits and drawbacks. It will always boil down to personal comfort level depending on your circumstances
Most personal firewall hardware are about the same quality, but as with everything else, the higher the price, the more functionality, and quality.
Most of them use a web interface to configure it, and are reasonably simple to set up. I tend to say away from the very common and very cheap ones,
like Linksys and D-link.
Hardware firewalls are important because they provide a strong degree of protection from most forms of attack coming from the outside world.
Additionally, in most cases, they can be effective with little or no configuration, and they can protect every machine on a local network.
But most hardware residential firewalls have an Achilles' heel in that they typically treat any kind of traffic traveling from the local network out
to the Internet as safe, which can sometimes be a problem.
That being said, software firewalls are the same, in that the more you pay, the better quality, and more configuration. Also software firewalls
have the advantage of being able to specify which applications are allow to traffic outside the home network, and alert you when an unauthorized
application tries to do so.
But generally speaking with software firewalls, you have more manual maintenance, and configuration, which requires more knowledge and time than a
hardware solution. In addition, software firewalls have an Achilles' heel also. They can only protect the machine they're installed on, so if you
have multiple computers (which many homes do), you need to buy, install, and configure a software firewall separately on each machine. This can get
expensive and can be difficult to manage if you have a lot of computers.
The bottom line is that with any home-office broadband connection, a hardware firewall should be considered a bare minimum, and supplementing it with
a software firewall on one or more computers (and don't forget anti-virus software) is almost always a good idea.