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Quick Connect

NETGEAR's latest Wireless-N router comes loaded with plenty of features at a reasonable price.

If you’re on the lookout for a wireless router for a small network in your agency, the NETGEAR WNR2000 is a good place to start. This router is a reliable, feature-rich product that offers superior functionality at a surprisingly modest price. And not only is it easy to set up, but it automatically checks for downloads and installs firmware revisions.

Advantages

The WNR2000 comes with all of the standard amenities one would expect in a wireless router, including a four-port 10/100 switch, 802.11b/g/n support, network address translation, port forwarding and triggering, DMZ support, remote management and logging. The WNR2000 also features RangeMax, which boosts the unit’s overall signal range by 50 percent or more when a client connects using a RangeMax-compatible adapter.

While these features alone make for a competitive package, given its relatively low price, the WNR2000’s real surprises are in its ease of use and the capabilities that go beyond common expectations.

Connecting to clients is painless, thanks to NETGEAR’s Push ‘N’ Connect technology, which lets users establish a secure, encrypted Wi-Fi Protected Setup connection between a Wi-Fi-enabled computer and the router with just a few steps.

To connect a machine, users simply scan for access points using their wireless software, just as they would with any other access point. Once they locate the NETGEAR device, they select it, and press the Push ‘N’ Connect button on the front of the router. When the button is pressed, the router passes a security token to the connecting machine to complete the negotiation. The connecting machine is online, and no further configuration is required.

The WNR2000 can also be configured to automatically check for and install firmware updates upon login. This feature is leaps and bounds ahead of some routers, which require that .bin files be downloaded and applied using Flash utilities.

Why It Works for IT

Not only does the router offer all the standard features of its competitors at a decent price, but it also boasts several unique features that make administration easy and network setup a breeze. If a problem does crop up, NETGEAR offers 24x7 customer service and a full one-year warranty.

One particularly outstanding feature is the ability to levy network traffic controls on connected machines. IT departments can control the websites that are blocked on users’ machines while users are on the network. Administrators can even set a schedule as to when users are allowed to access blocked sites. Although this is not an all-inclusive Internet-filtering solution, it can help keep users off of prohibited sites.

Disadvantages

Although exciting in concept, the premise of features such as NETGEAR’s patented Push ‘N’ Connect and proprietary RangeMax technologies is inherently flawed because most mobile users will have reasonably up-to-date notebook computers that already include integrated non-NETGEAR network chip sets.

Because NETGEAR currently does not offer a mobile chip set that supports these proprietary technologies, users would need aftermarket cards plugged into their already Wi-Fi-enabled machines to realize these features. This is neither logical nor practical in most cases. This means these two technologies will most benefit the minority of teleworkers who use desktop computers — which do not have wireless network cards — making the purchase of a compatible NETGEAR card less redundant.

 

Sep 15 2009

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