Netgear WPNT834 RangeMax 240 wireless router
There's a new kid in Wi-Fi town, and it's terrorizing the neighborhood: the Netgear WPNT834 RangeMax 240 wireless router provides nearly twice the maximum speed of our previous performance champs. This MIMO-based device also prevails in several other respects, such as solid documentation, simple setup, and ample security. Given that it had so much going for it, we were especially disappointed when the WPNT834 ultimately failed to fulfill one of MIMO's core promises--fast performance at long range. For long-range performance, the remains the best choice--but you won't find better short-range speed than with the Netgear WPNT834.
The WPNT834 embodies the classic paperback-book size and shape of older Netgear routers such as the. Yet unlike its counterparts, the WPNT834 has three antennas that screw into its back edge. Each antenna can tilt 90 degrees backward. In addition, the outer two can rotate 180 degrees, and the middle antenna 360 degrees, giving you ultimate flexibility to orient them so as to maximize coverage. Between the antennas are the typical WAN jack, pinhole reset button, and four LAN jacks. Status lights on the front edge indicate router activity, including LAN connections and transmission speed. Netgear puts a handy cheat sheet underneath the router to help identify the router's exterior features. We wish the company also included wall-mounting brackets, which would allow you to hang the router high on a wall where its signal would be less encumbered. The absence of these brackets means the router must either lie flat or, if you attach the snap-on feet, stand on its edge.
The installation process for the Netgear WPNT834 RangeMax 240 router is no more involved than with most routers. Insert the bundled CD into your PC's optical drive, and the SmartWizard walks you through connecting and configuring the device. Once the process is complete, you can manipulate more features via the browser-based configuration tool. Highlights include establishing passkeys via WPA2 security; restricting access to the router by specific MAC addresses; opening up VPN pass-throughs and a DMZ port; and erecting a firewall via NAT and SPI.
With its Airgo Networks Gen 3 MIMO chip and 240Mbps maximum speed rating--more than double the speed of first-generation, 108Mbps MIMO routers--the Netgear WPNT834 RangeMax 240 absolutely annihilated the competition in tests CNET Labs conducted at a 10-foot range. It pushed data through our maximum-performance trial at a scorching 93.8Mbps, crushing previous top scores such as the 51.1Mbps and the 45.7Mbps. In our mixed-mode test, the Netgear WPNT834 earned a similarly stellar 83.3Mbps compared with the Belkin's 42.1Mbps and the D-Link's 17Mbps. Yet when we increased the distance to 200 feet for our long-range test, the Netgear WPNT834 slowed way down, managing only 24.2Mbps next to the Belkin's 36.4Mbps and the D-Link's 33.3Mbps.