The Netgear WGT624 108Mbps wireless firewall router is a good example of the advantages and disadvantages of bleeding-edge technology. It offers nearly double the throughput of standard 802.11g devices and increased range to boot. Plus, the WGT624's fast throughput over distance combined with its support for portions of the 802.11e draft standard make it well suited for streaming media over your wireless connection. Other advanced features, such as an SPI firewall and support for Dynamic DNS, make the WGT624 a good choice for techies who are looking for a high-performance wireless router and are willing to perform an occasional firmware upgrade. (Netgear has already released one firmware upgrade for the router that fixes some bugs and enhances performance.) If the idea of router maintenance doesn't appeal to you, consider the, which lacks the speed of the WGT624 but is easier to set up, or the , which automatically checks for firmware upgrades.
The Netgear WGT624 108Mbps wireless firewall router comes with all the hardware and software you'll need to set up your network. In addition to the router, the product package contains an AC power adapter, a rubber stand, an Ethernet cable, a printed installation guide, and a CD containing a comprehensive reference manual.
We like the compact design of the WGT624. The router's rubber stand and built-in mounting bracket on the bottom panel help you position the device for optimum range. The LEDs on the front of the unit let you monitor data passing across the WGT624's Ethernet and wireless interfaces. Plug the router in, connect it via the Ethernet cable to your broadband modem, and you've installed the WGT624 hardware.
The network installation is a little less straightforward, and the printed guide may leave some in the lurch. The guide asks you to manually reconfigure the network settings of each computer if necessary, then it refers you to an online resource to learn how to do this. In contrast, theand the include software that automatically configures the network settings for the router and any connected computers, making these instruments better suited for those new to networking. After you connect the WGT624 to your local network, the router's browser-based Smart Wizard automatically detects the type of Internet service you have and directs you through the rest of the installation.
The Netgear WGT624 108Mbps wireless firewall router has a good feature set that meets the needs of both advanced users and those with little or no networking experience. The WGT624's browser-based configuration tool is easy to navigate and offers features tailored for family networking. The tool is password-protected and includes a content-filtering section that gives you control over the types of sites your computers can access, letting you restrict access based on keywords, service types, IP addresses, and times of day. The WGT624 also displays detailed logs of the Web sites that your computers have accessed or attempted to access, which lets you police the types of traffic passing through your network.
The router includes two different types of firewalls: network address translation (NAT), which hides your computers' IP addresses behind the router's IP address, and stateful packet inspection (SPI), which checks individual data packets to make sure they are part of a legitimate connection. Together, these firewalls provide strong security against most attacks originating from the Internet. The WGT624 also supports WEP and the stronger WPA encryption scheme.
We wish that the WGT624 supported wireless distribution system (WDS). Limited range is a problem for many home networking environments, and WDS makes it easy to expand your coverage area by simply adding a repeater, such as the, to rooms where your signal is weak.