Now that support by ISPs for ADSL2/2+ is starting to ramp up in the UK it’s time to take a look at the latest routers that support these standards. Netgear has never been slow in coming forward and its new DG834PN looks to offer a fine selection of features including full support for the higher Internet access speeds.
Wireless features are particularly good as the router employs MIMO (multiple input multiple output) technology to increase range. This monitors for interference in the shape of walls and other obstacles and constantly modifies the router’s aerial setup to improve signal strength. And aerials aplenty there are in the DG834PN as it has no less than six. Nothing mars the router’s sleek lines as these are all tucked away inside the casing which has a large blue dome on the top surface. This has separate LEDs for each aerial which are designed to flash to tell you which are active and which direction the signals are coming from. To be honest the dome is a bit of a gimmick as during testing we found it quite distracting. However, Netgear even has this covered as you can switch the dome LEDs off from the management interface or only have them on for a specific period each day.
The DG834PN is presented as a smooth plastic lozenge that looks and feels well built. There’s not much to see at the rear as along with an integral ADSL modem it offers a four-port Fast Ethernet switch. If you need to connect more network devices it’s easy enough to cascade another hub or switch from any of the ports. Netgear has perfected its installation routine down to a fine art as you simply connect your ADSL line, link a PC to the unit and point a web browser at its default IP address. The home page opens with a quick start guide that asks for the country of operation and then attempts to detect the type of Internet connection for you. If all is well it requests your login details and that’s all there is to it.
We would recommend sorting out wireless access immediately as this is switched on by default, the SSID is broadcasted and no security is configured. Plenty of options are available as the router supports both 64/128-bit WEP and WPA-PSK. Although of less value to most home users, WPA-802.1x support is also available but this requires an external RADIUS server to provide user authentication. In most cases all you need do is change the SSID and switch on masking as without this being broadcast a user would need to know the name of the SSID to gain access. Access can be tightened further by implementing a list that only allows specific MAC addresses to associate with the access point.