Zyxel P-336M review
Zyxel’s P-336M was one of only three routers to breeze through our long-range tests. After poor initial performance, we discovered that turning off the Turbo mode under the Super G heading speeded up things immensely. We saw 16Mb/sec at long range, which was more than enough to support our 720p test video. As you’d expect, the Zyxel was even quicker at short range, posting the second-fastest throughput of 28Mb/sec. Overall, though, the Belkin offers better coverage, as we found the Zyxel’s signal dropped off completely before 25m and three internal walls.
The P-336M has two interesting hardware features: a Wi-Fi on/off switch and a USB port. The latter isn’t for sharing a printer, but it does simplify configuration. Windows XP Home and Professional SP2 have Windows Connect Now, which can save basic wireless security settings to a USB flash drive. You then transfer them via the drive to the router or any notebook you want to add to the network.
As there’s no integrated modem, you’ll need to buy an Ethernet model to use with an ADSL line, such as the Linksys ADSL2MUE for £20 from www.broadbandbuyer.co.uk
The P-336M’s web interface is plain but intuitive. Separate WAN and wireless wizards take you through initial setup. Advanced features are plentiful, although Zyxel’s descriptions are focused on gaming. Game Hosting is port triggering, opening inbound ports when apps needs them; a preset list includes dozens of games. A similar page for other apps has checkboxes for FTP, Windows Messenger and more. Virtual servers direct internet connections to your local servers, while inbound filters block or allow certain IP ranges.
QoS will prioritise VoIP data, despite the gaming description. It can prioritise automatically or with manual priorities from 0 to 255 for IP address and port ranges. The Access control function blocks by IP, port or MAC address, but the optional web filter passes only the sites you add to the list. Schedules can be applied throughout. Wireless settings include adjusting transmit power, and you can choose from nine DDNS services.
For £60, the Zyxel is full of features and has great coverage and speed when used with Zyxel’s PC Card (£40 exc VAT).