The SPI firewall is enabled on power up and defaults to blocking all unsolicited inbound traffic. For most users this is all that will be required but you can add your own firewall rules to handle specific services. Port forwarding inbound traffic to specific servers is supported so you can select from nearly forty predefined services, provide the server’s IP address and add either a single IP address or a range to define WAN users that are allowed access.
Usefully, you can add your own custom services to the list and a schedule can be applied to each rule to determine when it is active. Web access restrictions are nothing special as the router implements simple URL filtering so you’ll have to create lists of sites you want to block. However, you can use a single schedule to apply blocking lists at specific times of the day or week. Email alerting to one address is supported and a message can be sent if the router detects an attack or a user attempts to access a banned web site.
To test general wireless performance we called in a 1.6GHz Fujitsu Siemens notebook running Windows XP SP2 and fitted with Netgear’s RangeMax WPN511 wireless PC Card. With a line of sight connection of one metre the open source Iometer reported a very respectable 41.9Mbit/sec over an unsecured link. Performance didn’t fall by much with encryption activated as a WPA-PSK link only dropped down to 37.6Mb/sec. Netgear’s RangeMax technology makes its mark as testing in a residential environment saw some good results. While Iometer was running we moved the notebook down one floor and put three brick walls in the way and saw performance drop by 21 per cent for an unsecured link and 30 per cent for a WPA-PSK link.
The DG834PN clearly offers an impressive range of features for the price and backs them up with a slick installation routine and very good overall performance. However, before you whip out the plastic bear in mind that many existing routers with integral ADSL modems simply need a firmware upgrade to support ADSL2/2+. We know, for example, that there’re plenty of you out there using Netgear’s trusty DG834GT and a quick check on the manufacturers support site shows that a firmware download is available.