Microsoft's new 802.11g MN-700 wireless broadband router is designed so that even a novice user can expand a home network easily, but it has a few shortcomings compared to the Editors' Choice-winning . The setup process and the configuration utility are very user-friendly, and Microsoft's support options will help with most problems you might encounter. It offers most features that home users need, and the Setup Wizard automatically turns on wireless security--a unique and much-needed detail. Its range is excellent. Experienced users will be frustrated by the lack of advanced configuration options and wireless bridge support, however.
Like thestreamlined installation routine, the MN-700's Setup Wizard gathers the necessary network information automatically before configuring both your wireless network adapter and the MN-700. The Setup Wizard supports all Windows platforms; a nonautomated, browser-based interface is available for other OSs.
We uncovered a bug in the Setup Wizard software that prevented the application from completing normally when we attempted to use a workgroup name that contained a period. Microsoft tech support worked quickly to determine the cause and promised a fix in a future release.
The MN-700's documentation is excellent. In addition to the printed installation guide, you get a thorough, printed user guide with a lengthy troubleshooting section, as well as detailed instructions for nonstandard installations, such as using the MN-700 as an access point instead of as a router.
You use the Broadband Network Utility, which you install on one of your networked machines during setup, to check network status and adjust the MN-700's configuration. Like the Setup Wizard, the Broadband Network Utility is novice-friendly; it's easy to navigate, with clear help information on each screen. The utility also checks automatically for updates, making it simple to keep the firmware current.
The MN-700's impressive security setup includes one unique and much-needed touch: wireless security is enabled during setup--no other product we've seen does this--and other security features, such as Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) firewall and NAT, are always on. Additional security features include parental controls, client filtering, 64/128-bit WEP, 256-bit WPA, DMZ, MAC address filtering, and detailed logging.