Editors' note: As the NetGear WNHDEB111 HD Gaming Wireless N Networking Kit is a gaming networking accessory, we didn't put it through the same testing process we use for wireless routers.
While home wireless products continue to invade the marketplace, the demand for high-speed wireless performance increases. At this point, standard 802.11n (also known as Wireless-N) routers might not cut it anymore, especially in the world of HD video streaming and online gaming.
This is because most of these devices use the 2.4GHz frequency that's shared with the legacy 802.11b/g routers as well as with other home devices such as Bluetooth headsets, printers, and cordless phones. With the proliferation of wireless devices, the 2.4GHz band is cluttered and networking gear may suffer speed degradation because of signal interference.
While the interference depends on the area you are in and the number of devices present, moving network gear to the less-occupied 5GHz band is a sure way to gain better performance for HD video streaming. This is where the $100 Netgear HD/Gaming Wireless-N Networking Kit comes into play. The kit lets you quickly add the 5GHz Wireless-N capability to your existing router and even lets you bridge your wireless connection to two Ethernet-ready devices..
First, we should point out that the kit is not for everyone. For most applications where high-speed wireless performance is a necessity, a standard Wireless-N router may suffice. However, who need a system that can bridge or repeat a Wireless-N connection to wired networking devices, especially for HD video streaming and online gaming purposes, should consider the Netgear Kit.
The Netgear kit comes with two identical 5GHz Wireless-N units (model WNHDEB111 HD), their respective power supplies, a setup disc, and two five-foot Ethernet cables. Each unit can serve as an access point or a wireless bridge--there's a switch on the back that changes the role of the device. In access point mode, the unit broadcasts wireless signal and lets other devices connect to the network; however, while in bridge mode, it transmits a data signal only to the devices connected via the Ethernet ports on the second device. Unless you already have a 5GHz Wireless-N router, such as the Netgear WNDR3700 or the Linksys WRT610N , one of the units must be used in the AP mode before the second one can be used in the bridge mode. If you already have a 5GHz Wireless-N router, you can use both of the units as bridges.
To use a unit in access point mode, you'll attach an existing router to the device, flip the corresponding switch on the unit to "AP" and have a 5GHz Wireless-N network. If you want to customize your setup, such as change the name of the network or setup encryption, you can use Netgear's software to access the device's internal configuration Web page. We found this similar to other Netgear routers, which are self-explanatory and easy to use.
Each unit comes with a stand that lets it to stand vertically, reducing its footprint. This is nice as they are quite bulky, about the size of a regular Netgear RangeMax router. On the front of each unit is a Wi-Fi Protected Setup button for setting up home Wi-Fi security. Wi-Fi Protected Setup is a fast way to connect wireless device and spare you from manually typing the encryption key.