Motorola's SBG1000 wireless cable modem gateway is the most resourceful gateway we've seen to date. It houses six typical networking devices in one box: a Surfboard cable modem; a five-port Ethernet switch; an 802.11b access point; a phone-line adapter; a print server; and a firewall. With its fast throughput and wide range, it's a good choice for a cable-connected home or a small office looking for a single device that does it all and does it well.
The Motorola SBG1000 wireless cable modem gateway package comes with all you'll need to get going. The included setup guide is vague, but the 148-page electronic manual covers everything clearly and thoroughly. The SBG1000 also comes with a Cat-5 jumper cable, a phone-line cable, and a USB cable. It supports Windows 98 and up, Macintosh OS 8 and later, and Unix.
Insert the accompanying CD into your PC or Mac, and the software automatically shows you how to install the SBG1000, using large pictures, animation, and a minimum of words to guide you. It's an improvement over the usually elaborate setup wizards, such as the one that Toshiba uses for its gateway.
Within three minutes, we had added a wireless notebook and a desktop PC, connected via the HPNA phone-line adapter, to the SBG1000. Adding computers via USB requires installing additional software from the CD.
It's also easy to connect the SBG1000's print server. Just connect the printer to the SBG1000 via the server's parallel plug and use the Windows, Apple, or Unix IPR printer-client software to configure the device. It worked fine with our HP LaserJet 1100, but we wondered why the SBG1000 had only a parallel port when many home and small-business printers use USB almost exclusively.
Housed in a sleek, charcoal-gray-and-silver box, the Motorola SBG1000 wierless cable modem gateway has a wide variety of features. The indicator displays use intuitive icons, such as a globe, to represent the Internet connection and an antenna with radiating circles for wireless activity. Along the back panel are 13 connectors and a recessed Reset switch to restore the original settings. There's a pair of removable antennae for wireless reception. The SBG1000's built-in Web-based configuration tool lets you set IP addresses, DHCP leases, wireless channels, and data rates. Based on version 1.0 of the Cable Labs' Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS), the SBG1000 can connect with most of the nation's cable networks.
The SBG1000's removable antennae let you connect a more sensitive antenna for increased range.
Security for the SBG1000 could be better. You get wired equivalent protection (WEP) encryption as well as MAC address filtering. It lacks support for ASCII keys or a passphrase, making WEP harder to use than it need be. The SBG1000 also lacks Wi-Fi protected area (WPA) encryption. To keep out intruders, you can set the SBG1000's firewall to Low, Medium, or High security, or you can choose your own parameters with the custom selection. You can also establish a DMZ (a network demilitarized zone) for games and videoconferencing equipment.
In CNET Labs' tests, the Motorola SBG1000 wireless cable modem gateway showed long-distance stamina. It maintained contact with computers as far away as 200 feet and filled more than 120,000 square feet with a usable 802.11b signal. It also had no trouble penetrating one floor above and below. By comparison, theand the managed to send their signals only 75 and 89 feet, respectively. As far as maximum throughput goes, the SBG1000 can move 5.3Mbps, zooming past the Toshiba PCX-5000's 4.8Mbps and the Netgear CG814M's 3.9Mbps. It's still slower than 802.11g and 802.11a equipment, however.
CNET Labs throughput tests (Longer bars indicate better performance)
We had no trouble simultaneously connecting 10 clients of varying vintage. Some computers were running full-screen video, and others were listening in on Internet radio while a large download was taking place. This all occurred without a data hiccup.
With a two-year warranty, Motorola's coverage is adequate but not quite as good as the three-year policy that Toshiba provides for the. Motorola offers 24/7, toll-free phone support for the SBG1000 wireless cable modem gateway. Motorola's phone support was excellent in our experience, with quick response times and a knowledgeable staff for troubleshooting.
The SBG1000's online resources are currently limited to a spec sheet and shopping features. We wish that Motorola offered the downloadable drivers and manuals, e-mail support, troubleshooting details, and start-up tips that its competitors do.