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Setting up the $179 SMC7004BR router is both quick and easy when you use the well-illustrated installation guide. First, connect your computer (which needs to have a network card already installed) to one of the router's LAN ports using a Cat-5 Ethernet cable. (Note: Make sure your computer's TCP/IP settings are configured to obtain an IP address automatically.) If you're not sure which cable to use, don't worry; SMC includes two Cat-5, UTP network cables. Next, connect your cable/DSL modem to the WAN port located on the back of the router. Finally, plug in the power supply and turn on the router. To configure the SMC7004BR, open your Web browser and type the provided IP address into the location bar. When the Primary Setup page appears, select the correct WAN type based on your particular ISP. The SMC7004BR router also acts as a DHCP server, supporting up to 253 users, and automatically assigns an IP address to all properly configured computers on your network.
Extra ports, read all about it
The rear panel of the SMC7004BR router also features a parallel port for connecting a shared printer. In fact, the SMC is one of the only routers in its class that acts as a print server, providing network access to a parallel-port printer from any Windows, Unix, or Linux client. (Unfortunately, Mac users are not supported.) To take advantage of the router's print-server function, you must run the included installation CD on each computer (otherwise, you can skip this step). When the Welcome dialog appears, simply click the Install button and follow the onscreen instructions. Although the SMC7004BR router's print-serving feature is adequate for a small workgroup, networks with a dozen or more clients should probably consider purchasing a laser printer with an Ethernet interface.
The SMC7004BR router also offers a serial COM port, which lets you share an Internet connection via an external analog or ISDN modem. This is handy if your DSL or cable connection goes down or if broadband service isn't offered in your area.
The SMC7004BR router offers a solid array of features to meet the needs of almost any home- or small-office network. The router includes a built-in 10/100mbps switch that's ideal for bandwidth-intensive applications such as videoconferencing, IP telephony, and multiplayer gaming. Also, the router's built-in, NAT-based firewall enhances network security by using a technology known as IP masquerading to hide the IP addresses of the machines on your network. The one feature the router lacks is an uplink port, which provides a simple method of connecting additional hubs and switches. Nevertheless, the absence of an uplink port isn't a significant burden since a crossover network cable effectively converts any port on the router into an uplink port.
The folks at SMC engineered the SMC7004BR router to appeal to a wide audience, including power users. If NAT-based firewall protection is not adequate for your network, the browser-based interface lets you grant or deny access to specific computers or ports on any computer in the local network. The DMZ (demilitarized zone) option lets you set up a server on the local network that's visible to any user on the Internet. Unfortunately, the DMZ option removes the firewall protection and exposes the entire computer to the Internet, even if it is used solely as a Web server. The Virtual Server option, which uses port forwarding to transfer traffic to specific services or daemons on a local machine, is a better solution. Port forwarding lets your Web-serving machine answer requests on port 80 (HTTP) or port 443 (HTTPS) without exposing the entire computer to the Internet, providing an additional hindrance to hackers. If you need to telecommute, the SMC7004BR router supports virtual private networks (VPNs) or even a VPN server using point-to-point tunneling protocol (PPTP) technology.
The SMC7004BR router comes with a generous lifetime warranty. With its user-friendly, Web-based installation, the concise installation guide, and the 40-page user manual, users of all levels will be up and running quickly, probably without the need for support. If a problem does crop up, SMC offers toll-free, 24/7 technical support. The Web site offers FAQs, manuals, and warranty information.
The SMC Barricade SMC7004BR four-port, 10/100mbps, broadband router offers a great solution for sharing a cable, DSL, or analog/ISDN connection among Windows, Mac, and Unix/Linux machines on your network. It has a user-friendly, Web-based setup, a wide array of advanced options, print-server support, and a generous lifetime warranty.