Gateway can help you cut the cord with its WBR-100 wireless router. This 802.11b router's strength is its easy setup for simple Internet sharing. With the WBR-100 router and about five minutes, just about anybody can create a wired and wireless network capable of reaching into every nook and cranny of a small home or an apartment. But while its low $70 price tag is appealing, this router lacks support for the faster 802.11g spec and WPA security, which means it's not as secure or as fast as other broadband routers, such as the Motorola WR850G or the D-Link DI-624. Gateway's WBR-100 wireless router comes with everything you'll need to connect your home to the Web via both wired and wireless networks. The sleek, black router does double duty, combining a 100Mbps four-port Ethernet switch with an 802.11b wireless access point.
An antenna that swivels 360 degrees lets you tune in the best signal. There are LEDs for the power, the wireless connections, the Internet connection, and each of the Ethernet ports. Oddly, the port activity lights don't correspond to the placement of the RJ-45 jacks in the back (port one lines up with the light for port four), which makes monitoring and troubleshooting a little confusing. Unlike many of its peers, the WBR-100 doesn't have a stand for vertical positioning, but it does come with hardware for screwing the unit into a wall. A recessed reset button on the back panel lets you return the device to its default settings so that you can access the router should you forget your password.
The 86-page installation guide is thorough and detailed, providing all you'll need to set up and optimize your network, and a setup wizard graces the router's browser-based configuration tool. After plugging in everything and accessing the Wizard through a standard browser, the WBR-100 tests the connection and walks you through a few onscreen prompts. In less than five minutes, the network is up and running. Although it touts easy setup and a nice combination of features, Gateway's WBR-100 wireless router is a couple of steps behind the competition in the latter category. The WBR-100 can function as a virtual server, relaying traffic to e-mail or Web servers on your local network. It also displays a list of connected computers on your network, which can come in handy if you want to monitor who is on the network.
Unfortunately, the WBR-100 is slow for a wireless router, offering a total throughput of only about 5Mbps--about five times less throughput than an 802.11g router, which is a better solution if you plan to support more than four wireless clients simultaneously. The WBR-100 also lacks WDS support, which means that it can't connect wirelessly to other access points. If you want to connect the WBR-100 to another access point to expand your coverage area, you'll need to connect the two via an Ethernet cable. Luckily, the removable antenna on the WBR-100 lets you attach another antenna to increase your range.
The WBR-100 comes with its wireless network ID set to "Gateway" and encryption turned off, making it a tempting target for a roving hacker. Unfortunately, the WBR-100 doesn't include the latest Wireless Protected Access (WPA) encryption scheme or the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which are rapidly becoming the norm for broadband routers. The WBR-100 does offer 128-bit Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption and a stateful packet inspection firewall.
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The WBR-100 is designed to let you attach another antenna to increase your range.
Gamers will be happy that the WBR-100 includes a &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ewebopedia%2Ecom%2FTERM%2FD%2FDMZ%2Ehtml">DMZ for applications that need an unhindered Internet connection. Parents will also be pleased that the WBR-100 can block access to the Internet based on a particular client (say, the computer in the kids' room) or URL (that is, a specific site that a parent does not want a child to visit).
The Gateway WBR-100 wireless router delivered reliable throughput and range over the course of a week of intensive use in CNET Labs, but its performance lagged behind that of other broadband routers we've tested. CNET Labs clocked the WBR-100's maximum wireless throughput at 5.2Mbps, well behind 802.11g routers, such as the Motorola WR850G
and the D-Link DI-624
. With a range of 150 feet, the WBR-100 falls well short of the DI-624 and the Netgear WGT624
CNET Labs maximum throughput tests (Longer bars indicate better performance)
For practical throughput tests, CNET Labs uses NetIQ's Chariot 4.3 software with Chariot 4.4 Endpoints as its benchmark. For wireless testing, the clients and routers are set up to transmit at various distances from the access point and to automatically select the best transmit speed. All tests are run with Chariot software using the TCP protocol and are run in our CNET offices over channel 11. Our tests indicate the range that you can expect in a typical office environment, but range in your own home or office may differ. You may be able to achieve better performance in situations where you can establish a clear line of sight. For more details on how we test networking devices, see the CNET Labs site.
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Gateway backs the WBR-100 wireless router with a one-year warranty, which pales in comparison to Motorola's two-year, Netgear's three-year, and Belkin's lifetime warranties. Gateway provides toll-free, 24/7 phone and e-mail support for the router beyond its warranty period, and Gateway's Web site has a number of other resources, including a rich assortment of FAQs, documentation and firmware downloads, guidance on installing new firmware, and detailed technical specifications.