For general Internet access controls you don’t get URL black and white lists such as those offered by D-Link’s routers. Instead, you can create up to sixteen entries that allow or deny all Internet access to listed MAC addresses. Schedules are applied to each entry so you can decide what hours each day a specific system is allowed to access the Internet. Inbound and outbound port filters offer more fine-tuning as you provide source and destination IP addresses and ports to block access to specific services. We were able to stop one test client from accessing FTP, HTTP and email services although these are permanent blocks and can’t be scheduled.
Virtual servers are also supported where you can redirect selected inbound traffic to a particular server on the LAN and you can place one IP address in a DMZ where it will sidestep the firewall for full exposure to the Internet. Testing with an Epson Stylus 950 we found printer sharing easy enough to set up following the instructions in the manual. However, if your printer uses a local status and ink monitoring utility you’ll almost certainly find it will no longer work.
For wireless security you get WEP and WPA/WPA2 encryption along with support for 802.1x authentication using an external RADIUS server. The router offers wireless QoS capabilities where you can prioritise traffic between source and destination IP addresses and port ranges. Alas, there’s a price to pay as this will only work if you switch off the MAXg setting.
The SureStart utility makes light work of the USB adapter installation and you get a useful utility which provides a site survey and details on the current wireless connection. As expected, performance is well below that offered by the latest draft 802.11n wireless products with a copy of a 690MB file over a close range WPA2 encrypted link delivering a modest 25.5Mbps. Moving our test laptop to the floor below the router saw signal strength take a tumble with speeds dropping by over 50 per cent.
After shopping around we found we could buy both kit components individually for less than £5 more than the kit price so USR isn’t offering much of a deal. Furthermore, wireless performance is modest at best and the router is short on features as well.