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Netgear Wireless-N Router WNR2000 review: Netgear Wireless-N Router WNR2000

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The Good The Netgear Wireless-N Router WNR2000 offers decent throughput speeds, excellent range, is easy to use, and has an affordable price. It also comes with a free, comprehensive Parental Control feature.

The Bad The Netgear Wireless-N Router WNR2000 has no dual-band, Gigabit, USB, or Guest wireless features. Its Web interface is sluggish at times, and the Parental Control requires software installed on the computer to allow exceptions.

The Bottom Line The Netgear Wireless-N Router WNR2000 is a no-frills budget wireless-N router, with excellent range and a handy and comprehensive Parental Control feature. It's a good fit for those who just need a simple wireless network and the ability to control access to the Internet.

7.3 Overall
  • Setup 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8

The Netgear Wireless-N Router WNR2000 is a compact and simple Wireless-N router with a friendly price of just around $70. The router offers decent throughput speeds and excellent range, and it's also the first router from Netgear to come with a free, comprehensive Web-based Web-filtering tool. Missing are some extras, such as Gigabit Ethernet, USB ports, and 5Ghz band support.

If you're looking for an entry-level Wireless-N router and want control over its Internet access, this is a great router to have. If you don't care for Web filtering and want something even more affordable, we'd recommend the D-Link DIR-615 or the Linksys WRT160N.

Design and setup
The Netgear Wireless-N Router WNR2000 looks like others in Netgear's RangeMax series, with a sleek casing that's, unfortunately, a fingerprint magnet; internal antennas; and a vertical stand design. Measuring only 7 by 5.1 by 1.4 inches, however, it's about two-thirds the size of other routers, making it one of Netgear's most compact Wireless-N routers.

On the front of the router resides an array of LEDs that display the status of each port as well as the status of the Internet and wireless connections. Also on the front is the Wi-Fi Protected Setup button, which instigates a short window of time where other WPS-compliant clients can enter the network without manually entering the encryption code.

On the back of the router are four LAN ports and one WAN port, and an on/off switch. The router is designed to operate in the vertical position and comes with a little detachable stand. It's not wall-mountable, though.

We had no problem setting up the WNR2000. The router comes with a software application that walks you through the setup process, from setting up the hardware to creating the wireless network. Alternatively you can use the router's Web interface for the setup process; the interface itself has another Web-based wizard that walks you through step by step.

Features
Considering its physical size and the price point, we didn't expect a lot of features out of the WNR2000; but the router offers something most routers don't: semi-Web-based Parent Control, which Netgear offers in collaboration with OpenDNS. Overall, this offers a simple, free, and effective way to conveniently oversee the use of Internet at home.

To use this, you first need to install the Netgear Live Parent Control software (which is on the included CD). This guides you through a few steps of setting up a free online account with OpenDNS and setting up the overall Web-filter level between five levels: high, moderate, low, minimum, and none, where high means most will be blocked, and none means nothing will be blocked.

From there, you no longer need the software. From anywhere in the world, you can now go to the Parental Controls Center site, log in with the account you just created, and further customize the Web-filtering feature of the router.

Also, you can define the content that each filtering level will block. For example, by default the "moderate" level doesn't include "video sharing," but you can put a check in front of this category to add it. There are about 54 categories to choose from and each of them states what content it filters.

Once a filtering level is set, all computers using the WNR2000 routers will have the same level of blocking. In order to add an exception, you'll need to create bypass accounts and install the Netgear User Utility (which can be downloaded from the Netgear OpenDNS Web account) on the computer that will make use of the exception.

Other than the Parental Control, the WNR2000 offers a standard set of networking features found in most Wireless-N routers, such as the ability to assign a fixed IP address to a computer in the network and forward certain services to it. This would come in handy if you want to set up a computer within the network to be an FTP or Web server.

For security, the router features virtually all encryption standards found in wireless routers, including all the variations of WEP and WPA. And as mentioned above, it also supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup, a feature that allows users to quickly add wireless clients to the network without having to manually type in the encryption key.

Performance
The Netgear Wireless-N Router WNR2000's throughput performance met our expectations for a router of this size and price point.

In CNET Labs' max throughput tests, the router scored 33.6Mbps, a bit faster than the D-Link DIR-615. At this speed, the Netgear can finish transmitting 500MB of data over the wireless network in less than 2 minutes.

In range tests, the WNR2000 did much better at 32.2Mbps compared with the 21.7Mbps of the D-Link DIR-615. It was also the winner between the two in the mixed mode test at 30Mbps.

We've seen much better performance in other Wireless-N routers, but they are also much more expensive than the WNR2000. On the other hand, the WNR2000 can put bigger and more-expensive routers to shame when it comes to range. We were able to keep a stable connection with the router from more than 310 feet away in our testing facility. Most other high-end routers' range stops at around 270 feet.

CNET Labs 2.4Ghz Wireless-N performance score (in Mbps)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

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