With maximum security as its credo, the Zyxel Prestige 334W wireless router can help keep your network's secrets safe from prying eyes, thanks to an advanced firewall, the highest level of encryption available, and a set of protocol filters to help keep you one step ahead of a hacker. However, the Prestige 334W is best suited to IT gurus who know their way around a network; beginners would need to sit down and sort through the 334W's copious 500-page tome of a manual to take advantage of its strengths. Unfortunately, this router also has limitations: you can't replace the antenna with one that might give you better coverage, for instance, and the Prestige 334W lacks a stand for setting up the router vertically. The Prestige 334W failed to break any speed records in our Labs tests. Still, this is the perfect router for anyone obsessed with network security and undaunted by geek-speak about protocols and ports. The Zyxel Prestige 334W is designed to be the center of a wired and wireless network in a house or a small office. In addition to the router, the package includes an AC adapter, a Cat-5 cable, a printed quick-start guide, and a CD bearing an electronic version of the unit's lengthy 500-page manual. The Prestige 334W's square gray-and-black design is unobtrusive, but we wish its package included a stand to vertically position the router. The Prestige 334W's single 2dB antenna rotates 180 degrees to help you catch the best signal, but it's fastened onto the unit, so you can't swap in a high-gain antenna to increase range.
Whereas some routers come equipped with a start-up wizard that automatically runs from the CD to guide you through the installation step by step, the Zyxel Prestige 334W requires manual changes to your connected computer before you can begin setting up the router. A printed 19-page setup guide walks you through the process, but if you're new to networking, the complexity of the setup may confuse you. Along the way, you'll need to acquaint yourself with terms such as ISP domain name, service type, and encapsulation to successfully navigate the process. The thorough user manual describes these terms and many more, but we recommend the smoother, automated setup of or Netgear's WGT634U for first-time networking.
If you need to set up a wireless network with a large coverage area, you can use the Prestige 334W's WDS feature. WDS, short for
The Zyxel Prestige 334W includes support for up to two simultaneous VPN tunnels, which allows you to establish secure encrypted connections with clients over the Internet. The Prestige 334W protects the Wi-Fi LAN with the latest Wi-Fi Protected Access encryption, too. Unfortunately, you must drill down in the authentication section of the router's browser-based configuration tool to activate WPA security. The Zyxel Prestige 334W router delivers adequate but not scorching throughput. Capable of moving 24.2Mbps at close range, the router is far behind Netgear's WGT624 and D-Link's DI-624, each of which doubles the throughput of the Prestige 334W. The router has an acceptable range of 175 feet, far short of the 200 feet that the others deliver.
Throughput in Mbps Throughput in Mbps
For practical throughput tests, CNET Labs uses NetIQ's Chariot 4.3 software with Chariot 4.4 Endpoints as its benchmark. For wireless testing, the clients and routers are set up to transmit at various distances from the access point and to automatically select the best transmit speed. All tests are run with Chariot software using TCP and are run in our CNET offices over channel 11. Our tests indicate the range you can expect in a typical office environment, but range in your own home or office may differ. You may be able to achieve better performance in situations where you can establish a clear line of sight. For more details on how we test networking devices, see the CNET Labs site. Zyxel backs the Prestige 334W for two years, which is longer than many other vendors, but it's short of Netgear's three-year and Belkin's lifetime coverage. Web resources include online registration, a library of technical documentation, a searchable knowledge base, and a skimpy but helpful troubleshooting section. Unfortunately, there's no forum or chat room for users and technicians to share problems and solutions, and if something goes wrong, Zyxel's toll-free help desk is open only between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday.