Netcomm could never be accused of pushing the design envelope too far: there's no sign of the iPod-inspired style that some other manufacturers have attempted and there are at least seven routers in their range sporting the same grey, drab looks. The look of all these Netcomm products -- including the V300 VoIP router we tested here -- is akin, in architectural terms, to communist housing blocks circa 1970.
There's a beige-brown strip which runs the perimeter of the router and is broken up at the rear by three 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports, an Internet Ethernet port and two RJ-11 ports -- one for your analog phone and one for your landline connection, should you have one. At the front is an aqua-green strip containing various LEDs -- one each for the Ethernet and RJ-11 ports -- however these are difficult to see from any angle except for dead-on.
Like the exterior, the Web-based configuration screens are utilitarian: just plain blue backgrounds, menus and settings. Unlike many home networking products nowadays there's almost no on-screen help. So you'll either have to know your stuff or -- horror of horrors -- consult the manual.
Our V300 came in a AU$199 MyNetfone VoIP bundle, which includes AU$5 worth of call credit. There's also an identically priced bundle with GoTalk's VoIP service or, alternatively, the V300 router can purchased standalone for AU$179.
Setting up the VoIP functionality was easy: plug in an analog phone, register online the MyNetfone number stuck to bottom of the V300's box, key those details into the router's VoIP configuration page and dial away. When attached to an Optus broadband cable Internet service -- the NetComm Web site warns ominously that the V300 doesn't work with Telstra cable -- calls to overseas and local numbers sounded as good as any fixed line connection. We had no dropouts and there was no hint of tinnyness in the sound. Should your Internet connection fail, the V300 can be configured to failover to a fixed line.
As a switch and a router the V300 performed as expected, with sustained transfer speeds averaging 95Mbps. However, sometimes it did take at least five minutes to successfully negotiate DHCP settings with the Internet service providers we used -- namely, Optus cable and Unwired.
Unfortunately, configuration options for the V300 are limited to VoIP settings, DHCP, port forwarding and nominating a computer to be in the de-militarised zone (DMZ) -- which by NetComm's definition means that that computer is fully exposed on the Internet. Unlike most routers on the market today there are no firewall rules, site blocking or IP filtering settings.