Even if you don’t use the quick start routine the router’s well designed web interface fires up a wizard on first contact which runs through the same configuration process but also adds options to change the time zone, WAN port settings and Internet connection type and for the latter you can choose from static or dynamic addressing, PPPoE, PPTP or L2TP.
Standard security is provided by an SPI firewall which can’t be switched off but can be customised with a range of filters. First up are MAC filters where you can either allow or deny Internet access to listed addresses. The web blocking feature is a cut above the likes of Netgear as you can create a black or white list of URL keywords and domains. You can allow access to all sites except those listed but a more powerful feature is the ability to block all access except to those on the guest list. Users don’t get a warning message when accessing a blocked site – the browser just eventually times out with the standard message saying it can’t display the webpage. You also get protocol/IP filters allowing you to control access based on port or IP address ranges.
The Special AP option allows you to define specific applications that external users can be directed to via port triggers while the DMZ can be used for one LAN system to sidestep the firewall for full exposure to the Internet. Virtual servers also allow you to direct external users to a specific system on the LAN as well. The router can run in mixed wireless mode or you limit access to 802.11b, g or n clients only. Security is present and correct with options for WEP or WPA/WPA2 plus SSID masking and the router supports both PIN and push-button modes for quick wireless configuration using WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup).
As expected, wireless performance was well below the quoted speeds. We tested using TRENDnet’s TEW-624UB wireless N USB adapter in a 1.6GHz Fujitsu Siemens notebook running Windows XP SP2 and the best speeds we saw when copying a 690MB video clip over a WPA encrypted close range link was 59Mbps. This is par for the course for most wireless N products but the USB adapter actually costs more than the router making for poor value. We also tested compatibility with a Belkin N1 Desktop Card installed in a Boston 3.2GHz Pentium D PC running Vista Ultimate and saw speeds for the same test increase marginally to 61Mbps.
A low-cost wireless N broadband router that’s easy enough to set up and offers a reasonable range of features for the price. The URL filters make it more versatile but wireless performance is well below the touted speeds.