3Com Home Wireless Router review: 3Com Home Wireless Router

  • 1

CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Easy to install; Wi-Fi compliant; integrated firewall; supports cable.

The Bad No telephone jack.

The Bottom Line This well-designed gateway makes it easy for home users to network several computers wirelessly and share a high-speed Internet connection.

CNET Editors' Choice Feb '01

Editors' Top PicksSee All

Now that broadband Internet access via DSL and cable is becoming more common, sharing that connection across multiple computers in your home is the next step. But if the thought of networking makes you cringe, don't worry; wireless network solutions can save you the hassle of all those cables. The 3Com Home Wireless Gateway, for instance, is an easy-to-use, affordable device for directing data in and out of your network. It also acts as a firewall to help keep hackers away. Now that broadband Internet access via DSL and cable is becoming more common, sharing that connection across multiple computers in your home is the next step. But if the thought of networking makes you cringe, don't worry; wireless network solutions can save you the hassle of all those cables. The 3Com Home Wireless Gateway, for instance, is an easy-to-use, affordable device for directing data in and out of your network. It also acts as a firewall to help keep hackers away.

The digital nerve center
The $399 Home Wireless Gateway measures just 7 by 8.5 by 2 inches, and it's shaped sort of like a cigar box. Yet this compact, unassuming device functions as the digital nerve center of your home network. It communicates with notebook and desktop computers over radio waves, allowing them to share a high-speed Internet connection, as well as printers and files, within a 300-foot range at speeds up to 11mbps. (Note: While the Home Wireless Gateway lets you share an Internet connection among both PCs and Macs, you'll need to run Windows NT Server's Services for Macintosh or a comparable service if you want to share files or printers between the two operating systems.)

In addition to the Home Wireless Gateway, remember that each computer on your network must have a wireless Ethernet adapter. Since the Gateway supports the 802.11b standard and is Wi-Fi certified, it is operable with Wi-Fi cards from 3Com and other vendors. (For a list of Wi-Fi-certified devices and cards, check out the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance Web site.)

Easy installation
The Home Wireless Gateway is both easy to set up and to manage. To set up the device, you simply plug in the power supply and connect the included Ethernet cable to your DSL, cable, or ISDN modem connection. Next, install a network adapter in each computer you want to network, and configure the TCP/IP settings for communication with the Home Wireless Gateway. There's no software to install; the device includes an integrated configuration tool that you access over a standard Web browser. Just type the provided IP address into the address bar of your browser and hit Enter. When the Setup program appears, go to the Gateway Setup Wizard and follow the onscreen instructions. The included Installation Map and User Guide also provide step-by-step instructions.

Aside from supplying wireless connectivity, the Home Wireless Gateway also has three wired 10/100 Ethernet jacks for faster data-transfer speeds, in case you want to swap large video files. To connect to a wired Ethernet port, your computer must have a network interface card (NIC) installed.

Network-speed theory vs. reality
CNET Labs' experiences testing the Home Wireless Gateway reflect the possibilities--and limitations--you may encounter in your own home. For example, 3Com claims you can wirelessly connect up to 35 computers using the Home Wireless Gateway. That big of a cluster, however, could easily slow the network to a crawl, because all machines connecting to an 802.11b Wi-Fi network have to share available bandwidth. Based on the results of CNET Labs' tests, the Home Wireless Gateway is probably best suited for Wi-Fi-compliant networks of seven or fewer clients. When you factor in the device's three Ethernet ports, you have ten nodes total, more than enough for most home-networking environments.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy

3Com Home Wireless Router

Part Number: 3CRWE50194

MSRP: $280.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Data Transfer Rate 11 Mbps
  • Data Link Protocol Fast Ethernet
  • Type none