Netgear RangeMax Wireless Modem Router review
Netgear and Linksys must both be wondering which one of them has spies in the other’s company. This is the second time they’ve released similar products simultaneously – and they were both MIMO wireless broadband routers the last time too. Like the Linksys SRX200 below, the new RangeMax router (aka DG834PN) also incorporates an ADSL2+ modem, making it compatible with the very latest and fastest broadband connections.
Netgear doesn’t bother with any ‘easy configuration’ utilities, unlike U.S. Robotics’ MAXg, and instead leads you straight to the web management interface. Once you’ve plugged in a PC’s LAN connection or connected to the RangeMax wirelessly, supplying your web browser with the default IP and logging in takes you to a Setup Wizard. After you’ve supplied your country and language, it detects the type of ADSL connection for you and enters all the settings automatically – it worked perfectly for our BT service.
The RangeMax includes a decent selection of security features. You can use MAC address control to limit access, and the unit will automatically detect any stations currently connected to make their addition to the control list easier. WEP options include 64-bit and 128-bit keys, plus WPA with PSK and Radius authentication. But WPA2 support isn’t included, with Netgear claiming it’s unnecessary on a consumer product. The DG834PN still has blue flashing lights on top, but you can now schedule its pulsations for specific times from within the web interface, or turn them off entirely.
The built-in firewall has the usual inbound and outbound service control, which defaults to allowing all outgoing and no incoming activities. The Netgear then offers the ability to create your own custom services, which will appear in the menu when creating custom firewall rules. This will prove useful if you need to apply them to more than one IP address. Setting up virtual servers is integrated into the same process. You can also create daily and hourly schedules for your firewall rules, and have notification of any attacks sent out to a specific email address. However, disabling port scanning and turning on Denial-of-Service attack protection are curiously found under the WAN Setup section of the menu. Here, you can also protect the Internet connection with keyword and domain blocking, plus allow one trusted IP address full access. Support for dynamic DNS updating is provided, but only for the DynDNS.org service.
The DG834PN acquitted itself reasonably well in our performance tests. Even with a floor and a couple of rooms separating our notebook and the base station, a solid 23Mb/sec throughput was maintained. Best of all, the RangeMax exhibited none of the close-proximity problems we’ve seen with MIMO in the past, achieving 24Mb/sec when the notebook and router were adjacent. Overall performance isn’t as quick as the Linksys SRX200, but you’re certainly getting an excellent boost in terms of range and speed. Netgear has yet another performance hike on the horizon too, with products claiming to reach 240Mb/sec coming soon.
Netgear’s new ADSL2+ wireless broadband router has plenty to commend it. It’s easy to install, offers decent performance, and has a reasonable set of security features. However, Linksys’s SRX200 is faster and adds both WPA2 and comprehensive quality of service control, all for the same price.