Review Price £85.00
Netgear's web access controls are nothing special as all you can do is manually create a list of blocked domains or URLs that match a list of up to 255 keywords. There's no option that allows you to block all Internet access except to only those sites you list. The Internet Access QoS (quality of service) settings could prove useful as you can choose from a predefined list of online games and assign one of four priorities to them. You can add your own custom applications if you wish and QoS priorities can also be applied to specific LAN ports and MAC addresses. For the latter the router displays all currently connected systems making it easier to provide the relevant address.
For testing we installed Netgear's new WNDA3100 dual-band Wireless-N USB adapter in a 1.6GHz Fujitsu Siemens notebook running Windows XP SP2. The bundled utility makes very light work of wireless connections as it scans for access points, works out which encryption scheme is active and, once you've entered a key, sets the connection up for you.Usefully, the LED on the side of the adapter glows blue for an 5GHz connection and orange if it's 2.4GHz.
Real world performance proved to be a disappointment as with the fastest dual band mode selected a copy of a 690MB video clip returned a modest 48Mbps over a close range WPA encrypted connection. However, we did see improved signal strength when the laptop was moved to the floor below with three brick walls in the way as this dropped to around sixty per cent - most wireless-N routers fall below fifty per cent. It was sunny day as well so we caught some rays in the garden and with the laptop twenty metres away signal strength held out at around 75-80 per cent.
The dual band feature is capable of improving wireless range and makes the router comparatively good value. However, Gigabit Ethernet isn't on the menu, wireless performance is nothing to write home about and we were also concerned that during our wireless tests the router hung on a number of occasions when we changed the wireless mode and had to be rebooted to clear it.
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