Motorola WR850G wireless broadband router review: Motorola WR850G wireless broadband router

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MSRP: $69.99
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Strong security options; removable antenna; integrated mounting bracket; supports DDNS.

The Bad Mediocre range; terse quick-start guide.

The Bottom Line The WR850G is a decent family router at a very affordable price, but it lacks the long range and speed enhancements of new MIMO gear.

7.0 Overall
  • Design and ease of use 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 7.0
  • Service and support 7.0

Review summary

Editors' note: The rating and Editors' Choice designation for this product has been altered since the review's original publication. The reason for this is simply the general improvement of technology over time. In order to keep our ratings fair and accurate, it's sometimes necessary to downgrade the ratings of older products relative to those of newer products.

With all of the high-speed hoopla surrounding wireless routers these days, it's refreshing to find a great product unobscured by marketing hype about turbo speeds. The Motorola WR850G wireless broadband router lacks a proprietary turbo mode but delivers fast throughput in both standard 802.11g and 802.11b environments, where it really counts. It also has a feature set that's well suited for both basic Internet sharing and advanced networking for the home and the office. A configurable firewall and support for various types of encryption protect your network from intruders. The WR850G doesn't have the range of the D-Link DI-624 , but its &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eproxim%2Ecom%2Fsupport%2Ftechbulletins%2FTB%2D046%2Epdf" target="_blank">WDS support makes it easy to expand your coverage area into the far reaches of a house or a building.

The Motorola WR850G wireless broadband router comes with everything you need to start building your network. Aside from the router itself, the package includes a power adapter, a power cord, one Ethernet cable, a CD-ROM with documentation and software, a printed quick-start guide, and a stand for vertical positioning. The hardware installation is clearly outlined in the guide, and the process takes only a minute or two. The router's bottom panel doubles as a mounting bracket, making it easy to affix the WR850G to a wall or a ceiling, and the user guide on the CD includes a handy template that you can print out and use to help you drill the necessary holes.

The Installation Wizard that runs off of the included CD makes network installation easy for those using a Windows PC. Unfortunately, the printed quick-start guide lacks information for those running Linux or Mac operating systems or for anyone who would simply prefer to perform the installation manually. The instructions for manual installation are clearly delineated in the user guide, but we would have preferred to see a little information, such as a default IP address, username, and password, on the quick-start guide. On the other hand, the tech-support number is clearly listed on the quick-start guide, so help is only a phone call away. The user guide is one of the best we've seen, with detailed instructions on using the WR850G, as well as basic networking and troubleshooting information.

The Motorola WR850G wireless broadband router has one of the finest and most configurable feature sets we've seen on a home router. Its full array of features sets it apart from most other routers, as does its support for Wireless Distribution System (WDS) mode. WDS enables the router to connect wirelessly to other WR850Gs or WA840Gs, with no need for an Ethernet connection. This makes extending your coverage area as easy as plugging in a second or third access point.

The WR850G also comes equipped with top-notch security features. The router supports not only the older 64- and 128-bit &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ewebopedia%2Ecom%2FTERM%2FW%2FWEP%2Ehtml" target="_blank">WEP, making it compatible with legacy devices, but also &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ewebopedia%2Ecom%2FTERM%2FW%2FWPA%2Ehtml" target="_blank">WPA, 802.1x, and the Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES. These advanced security options help future-proof your network, giving you immediate access to the security standards of tomorrow. You can also turn off the router's access point or disable SSID broadcasts, which helps conceal your wireless network from anyone scanning for accessible access points.

In addition to security for your wireless network, the WR850G includes a configurable firewall that fends off attacks from the Internet by keeping predefined types of data packets from entering your network.

Parental-control features let you to block connections based on both URLs and keywords, and you can restrict access by specific days of the week or times of day. You can also save and enable distinct control policies. For example, you can configure a policy for when you're at home and a different one for when you're on vacation, which might allow access to only your house sitter. The WR850G can also log connection information that tells you the URL, the MAC address of the machine that established the connection, the time the connection was established, and the port that was used for the session.

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