Sony's PCWA-AR300 802.11g wireless router sacrifices ease of use and functionality for style. Its setup might be simple for experts, but the documentation is too sparse for novices. Those same experts will notice that the PCWA-AR300 lacks key security features, such as a built-in firewall. And despite the router's subpar warranty and support resources, it costs about $75 more than the competition. Other routers we've tested, including our Editors' Choice, the, are a better value.
The PCWA-AR300 router has three parts: an Ethernet router, an 802.11g access point that plugs into the router; and a power supply for both components that plugs into the router. Connecting these three pieces is easy, but poor documentation could make the process difficult for novices. The router's foldout booklets are vague and redundant, and they include screenshots with minuscule onscreen print. We often had both the quick-start guide and the troubleshooting guide spread out in front of us, wishing for a real manual.
Changing settings on the router is easy via its browser-based configuration tool, but again, the documentation will throw novices for a loop. The tool lets you do typical things, such as changing the SSID and entering WEP encryption keys. You can also enter PPPoE info if you plan to share a DSL connection.
The PCWA-AR300's unique two-part design lets you hide the router and show off the small, sleek, and stylish wireless access point (AP). Both the router and the AP have built-in brackets for wall-mounting. Unfortunately, the AP uses one of the router's Ethernet ports, leaving only three open--one fewer than on most wireless routers we've seen, though that number should be enough for most home-networking scenarios.
The PCWA-AR300 router possesses some interesting features. Foremost is its ability to automatically configure other Sony networking devices, such as the. The router also supports either straight-through MDI or crossover MDI-X cabling automatically.