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NetGear RangeMax NEXT DG834N review

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Summary

Our Score:

8

The hype surrounding the 802.11n high-speed wireless specification has triggered a deluge of compliant products with every vendor that’s anyone rushing to hit the market. We all know by now the status of this specification as in May the first working draft failed to achieve the required 75 per cent of votes to make it to the final draft stage. However, even though it’s a risky business producing products that may have no future, no vendor wants to get caught napping. We’ve seen Buffalo’s Nfiniti and D-Link’s DIR-635 draft-n routers and PC Cards and it’s now Netgear’s turn to step up and be counted.

The DG834N router certainly makes its mark physically as it is an almighty great slab of plastic with more than a hint of Apple-like design to its shiny white casing. The reason for its size is the multiple aerials needed for MIMO operations are hidden inside and the router has two groups of three fitted. It incorporates the standard quad of Fast Ethernet switched ports and combines these with an integral ADSL2/2+ modem. It comes with a small plastic stand and Netgear insists that it must not be left on its side. Presumably, this is to ensure air flow through the unit is unobstructed as there are vents at each end, although after running it for a week it stayed remarkably cool. Gone is the silly blue plastic dome and circulating lights of its predecessors to be replaced by a simple LED display at the front.

Before we take a closer look you should know that Netgear also has another version of this router that supports Gigabit Ethernet. Costing around £180 inc. VAT, the WNR854T comes with five Gigabit Ethernet ports but does not include an integral ADSL modem. There’s good reason to consider this as the Fast Ethernet ports on the current crop of draft-n routers could cause a bottleneck for data transfers between users on the LAN and WLAN if the quoted wireless speeds are to be believed.

And so to the DG834N - Netgear’s installation is a little more interesting than most as you run its SmartWizard routine from the supplied CD-ROM. This guides you gently through the physical installation of the router and then hunts it down on the network and attempts to identify the type of ADSL connection. It did a fine job for us as it discovered that PPPoA was in use and simply asked for our BT Broadband user credentials. Its last task is to sort out wireless access and security and then you’re up and running and all in a couple of minutes. It also drops a quick access icon on the desktop to make things easy.

Alan Cox

December 31, 2008, 3:36 pm

My experience with this item is, unfortunatly not good. I purchased it to replace an existing Netgear DG834G which had always performed well with no problems and this was one of the reasons that I upgraded it. About 4 months after I purchased it I switched it off because I was going on holiday and when I returned I could not get rid of the "red light" and consequetly I had no Internet connection so I had to go and purchase a Belkin Router as a spare as I had given my old Router to a friend. After protracted correspondence with the Support Desk I finally got it working again but was afraid to switch it off because of this problem - however it did happen again a couple of times but after getting the spare Belkin out I managed to get up and running. Recently it has suffered from the same problem nearly every day and the Support Desk finally admitted that it was a "hardware problem". A search of the Internet revealed that quite a number of other people had experienced the same problem and in many cases Netgear changed the Router or the cost was refunded. One person reported that the Customer Service Manager in Ireland had admitted that there was a problem with this model so I contacted Netgear again and sent them this information - they replied indicating that the Router that I had purchased had been previously registered some 6 months before I purchased it and as it was now out of warranty there was nothing that they could. I would add that I purchased it as a new item at a local Computer Fair and even if it had been registered some 6 months previously the problem was reported to them well within the 12 month period.


However, they still refused to do anything about it and they now deny that there is any problem with this item - obviously we have all been imagining the problem and the customer is obviously not always right in Netgear's eyes. Guess which equipment I will be recommending in future?

amster

March 23, 2009, 6:29 pm

I cannot recommend this router to anyone. It's been nothing but a pain since I've had it. Sometimes, I lose internet connectivity to both wired and wireless clients, and as there is no switch on this router, I have to unplug it from the power source manually. However, and here's an inherent problem with these routers - when you unplug them from the power source, and plug the power back in straight after - the lights on the router go red, and it refuses to boot. The only solution is to leave it unplugged for 10 minutes! This is a well known problem unfortunately, and NetGear have done nothing to resolve it for the many users experiencing these issues - I guess maybe because - it's a hardware issue. The only advice I got from netgear support, was to return the item - which I duly did.

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