ZyXEL has been so busy of late getting its fingers in other networking pies that it almost let the draft 802.11n high-speed wireless specification slip by. Every one of its competitors has brought product to market and now, well over six months since the first examples appeared from the likes of Netgear, D-Link and Linksys, it has finally released its own solution.
The NBG-415n doesn’t impress in the LAN department as it delivers the standard quad of switched Fast Ethernet ports - something we’ve been questioning the value of in draft-n routers for some time. So far, only Netgear and D-Link have delivered Gigabit Ethernet with their respective WNR854T and DIR-655 routers. With a quoted 300Mbps wireless performance on tap ZyXEL’s Fast Ethernet ports will just cause a bottleneck between LAN and WLAN users. The NBG-415n also only provides an RJ-45 WAN port so you’ll need to source a separate cable or ADSL modem with an Ethernet port.
The router is equipped with three large high-gain aerials with the centre one removable and you also get a handy switch at the rear which allows you to physically turn off the wireless access point. Next door is a USB port but this is not for connecting printers or storage devices. Instead, it’s specifically for loading USB flash drives with wireless configuration files created using the Windows Connect Now configuration wizard. Load a USB flash drive on your PC or laptop when requested and it’ll copy a configuration file across which contains the SSID and WEP or WPA encryption key you supplied. Stick this in the router and its USB status light will flash three times to indicate that the file has been downloaded and the router reconfigured. If it doesn’t work then the LED will flash continuously.
It shouldn’t take long to configure the router as its intuitive web interface offers a wizard to get Internet access up and running. This takes you through changing the default administrative password and it supports a good range of connection types including DHCP, static IP addresses, PPPoE and PPTP. Wireless access also gets the same treatment as a wizard guides you through providing an SSID and choosing from Good, Better or Best security modes which equate to WEP, WPA or WPA2 encryption. There are plenty more wireless security options on offer as you can mask the SSID whilst the WPA-Enterprise option will use an external RADIUS server to authenticate users to the router.