This product is Netgear's newest rangemax wireless N 2.0 dual band router/access point product, it is not a gigabit router, if they plan the product with that upgrade they have not announced it yet. What is new and different about this router is that the N 2.0 standard supports the use of 5 ghz radios as well as 2.4 ghz radios. 5 ghz. generally has more range in most situations and less interference than 2.4 ghz and there is the attraction for me anyway; in my old concrete block house 5 ghz just seems to get more range (and having the kitchen in the way just adds to the interference on the 2.4 ghz band). This router can be connected to by a new dual band N transceiver, or an a A, G, B transceiver. At least as of this writing regular N 1.0 or Pre-N cards cannot connect using wireless N (but they can connect to the G network). Perhaps this is something they'll fix in a future firmware update, not sure. This unit uses MIMO even though they don't use that word on the box, it's also unusual because it uses "rare earth" antennas that are supposed to improve performance.
Recommend this product?
This is a new product and truthfully I think netgear rushed too fast to get it to market because there are not any good access cards out yet that can transceive the dual band N signal for a laptop, the xbox 360, etc. The one usb dongle that they did release is a piece of junk (see my review on that, don't buy it). Linksys is making a dual N gaming adapter that is also having tons of teething problems but if you are willing to battle it into submission that's currently the best choice for an access card that uses the N 2.0 standard.
What's in the box:
one cat5 ethernet cable
basic printed instructions
For whatever reason netgear's setup software would not function on my system, either because I run xp 64 bit professional or because my system has dual ethernet onboard which seems to confuse a lot of products like this during setup so I had to enter configuration manually through a web browser by typing the ip address of the desktop plugged into a wired port (most likey 192.168.2.1 or 192.168.2.2) if you don't know the ip address of your machine you can get that by going to a dos window and typing ipconfig /all.
Unplug your dsl or cable modem completely.
Plug in the modem to the wan port and your desktop into a empty wired port. Plug in the ac adapter but not into the router yet.
Power on the router first (by plugging in the power from the adapter) and wait a minute or two, then power on the modem, if done in the correct order you should be back online now.
When you first enter setup using the ip address above and the default password found in the documentation, the unit defaults to checking for firmware updates. Unlike the belkin products I usually buy, the firmware updater on this one actually works properly. When I entered the setup a new firmware was found and installed. After this new firmware was installed windows told me it found a new device and popped an icon on my desktop--now it's really easy to get into the setup you don't even have to type the ip address in your browser window any more.
I'm not sure what NAT is either, however, it's got something to do with connection security and it's well documented that the xbox 360 is hypersensitive to NAT settings in your network. This router is unusual because it has two settings for the firewall, you can open NAT which should make your xbox happy and if you're having any issues with laggy games (such as hellgate london) it could be a NAT configuration issue too. On some routers to make xbox live work properly you have to setup a dmz and put the xbox outside the firewall but with the dual settings available here you don't have to do that, at least I haven't had to yet (just open NAT it makes for a less secure firewall but if that's what you need to do to make something work it's nice the setting is available).
This unit has two radios that accept two individual SSID entries, one for the dual band N setup and one for the B and G radio. Settings to disable ssid broadcast are available in the setup. It's been my experience that you generally have to leave it on if you are using mixed manufacturer cards in your network.
What channels to use:
There are a choice of 2.4 ghz and 5 ghz channels in the router setup what works best in your situation may take some experimentation. This unit, unlike my belkin unit, doesn't have a auto setting, my gurus say don't use the auto setting anyway pick a channel.
UPNP on or off?
I just recently read about some new viruses being theorized that could spread through overlapping wireless networks and would abuse upnp to attack your computer. This is what windows uses to setup that icon on your computer for the router and in theory it's also got to do with quick setup of other access cards and security etc. I tried shutting it off but had trouble accessing the router setup sometimes so I turned it back on.
As of this writing the only access card sold by netgear is the USB dongle, it's junk. I've been trying to get some sort of ETA on the pci card and pcmcia cards but netgear isn't answering questions in the forums about that. Currently I'm using a Linksy 600 gaming adapter that is dual N technology. That thing was also released too early but if you're willing to battle it into submission it will work fairly well with this router, you do need to shut off a couple of settings in the setup for that unit and you can't currently use any security either, doesn't work. Hopefully linksys will straighten this unit out with firmware updates in the near future.
My experiences with this router:
Other than the setup software not working setup was easy. The game hellgate london is really sensitive, wouldn't run well at all with my belkin pre n router and on this one it was laggy until I opened NAT in the firewall settings, now it runs fine. For whatever reason netgear doesn't seem to have any intelligence in the router to stop one port from pigging all the bandwidth. I had my desktop plugged into port one running something sucking a lot of bandwidth and another computer plugged into a second wired port could not get any throughput at all, I had to limit the bandwidth on the first machine before the machine on port two could get any kind of decent download speed going...I can't say that I remember ever having that issue on any of my other router products, again something I think netgear needs to tweak. When upnp is disabled the icon for accessing the router frequently stops working, this may be some kind of windows issue; not sure. I've had this unit going nearly continuously for several weeks haven't had a need to reboot the router yet, had to reboot the machine a few times but not the router. The biggest issue with this router is finding access cards that can take advantage of the speed it's capable of, they should never have released this without at least having the pci card available, the linksys game adapter is it right now since their own usb dongle is unmitigated junk as of right now. As I said at the beginning this thing works as wireless A (5 ghz 54mbps), G (54 mpbs), b, and dual N (up to 300 mbps mimo but only with dual N cards) as of right now I can't get an older 2.4 ghz N card to connect to it in N mode. The micorosoft dongle, at least the one I have, cannot see the wireless A network and connect to it, it can see the G only, I know that wireless A works works because I have an old tri band pcmcia card for my laptop and it can connect just fine to wireless A (of course SMC makes wonderful stuff just currently out of my price range).
This is another new product with teething pains. They need a reliable pci dual band N access card and they should have released the gigabit port version as well. Netgear has a sometimes poor reputation for reliability and longevity for their non-pro product lines but for a hundred dollar router/access point it won't hurt so bad to replace it next year if it dies.
January 2009 update: Netgear still has not put out decent access cards for dual band N. Linksys is making one but I haven't had the eighty plus dollars to pick one up. I'm kind of amazed the thing is still going but it's running fine. I added a voip line to the house and had to make tmobiles linksys router get along with this one, that works no issues at all with no changes to any settings. The auto updater on this router works but you do have to enter the setup to have it check for updates and install them. I had a problem with my favorite online game, couldn't get in anymore, a update to the router fixed the issue. I often have some issues with my game but usually a reboot fixes it, rarely do I have to reboot the router before it will work again. I would buy another of these but I wish they'd put out the version with the gigabit ports for the router, this one doesn't have that and at one time there were plans for that product but I don't think it ever happened. With the economy the way it is circuit city has gone under, they were my favorite place to buy stuff; gone now. I have noticed that I don't seem to have quite as much range outside the house as I've gotten with some wireless points but it's dealable.
Amount Paid (US$): 129.00
Driver Availability: Other