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The Wireless MaxG router is housed in a silver-and-gray plastic casing that helps it blend into the technological woodwork. The device includes the typical four Ethernet jacks on its rear edge, along with one USB 2.0 port for connecting a printer. That edge also has the standard adjustable antenna found on most routers. The antenna's flexibility helps you maximize your signal strength. We wish the router also included brackets for mounting it high on a wall where it would experience less signal interference. Along the front edge, five status lights corresponding to the Ethernet jacks and the USB port lie next to three more lights that indicate when the router is drawing AC power, when its wireless radio is functioning properly, and when wireless clients are accessing the network.
Thankfully, the Wireless MaxG router's setup and user guides are more thorough than those of its wireless-adapter counterpart, the Wireless MaxG PC Card. The installation guide incorporates useful diagrams for plugging in the requisite hardware, as well as handy screenshots that take you through important initial configuration procedures for both the router and a printer. These include choosing an SSID, establishing a WPA password, and directing Windows to recognize your networked printer.
The installation guide is also included as a section within the extended user guide, which goes into greater detail about how to alter the Wireless MaxG router's features using its browser-based configuration tool. In addition to WPA, the device secures your data transmissions through WEP keys and 802.1x authentication via a RADIUS server. You can also use the tool to specify whether the router should block or accept particular MAC addresses, send incoming traffic only to certain computers (known as port forwarding), place a certain computer in the DMZ, or function as a network bridge.
On paper, the Wireless MaxG router's performance statistics are impressive. According to U.S. Robotics, the router's turbo mode maxes out at 125Mbps (most routers with high-speed modes, such as the Netgear WGU624, top out at 108Mbps), and the device offers "the maximum 802.11g range in the industry." Yet despite its faster turbo rating, the Wireless MaxG router transferred data at 37.5Mbps in CNET Labs' maximum-throughput tests, which was slower than the WGU624's 42.1Mbps. The Netgear also beat the U.S. Robotics in our range tests, with the former shuttling data across the network at a fast 35.6Mbps compared to the latter's 19Mbps. We should note, however, that the WGU624 costs close to $50 more than the Wireless MaxG router. Among similarly priced routers, such as the D-Link DI-624, the Wireless MaxG router is the clear long-range champ.
U.S. Robotics bundles an industry-standard two-year warranty and mail-in service with the Wireless MaxG router. You can access toll-free tech support during that period, though the limited hours--Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT--are disappointing. At press time, a search on the Wireless MaxG router in the knowledge-base section of the company's support Web site came up empty, though the device's product page listed a handful of general troubleshooting tips.