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Siemens SpeedStream 2524 Powerline Wireless DSL/Cable Router review:

Siemens SpeedStream 2524 Powerline Wireless DSL/Cable Router

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The Good Inexpensive; HomePlug 1.0 compliant; integrated 802.11b access point; solid performance.

The Bad Ethernet cable not included; one-year warranty.

The Bottom Line With its power-line connectivity, the SpeedStream 2524 is a great solution for users struggling with wireless range issues.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.8 Overall
  • Setup 7.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Support 6.0

The SpeedStream 2524 power-line wireless DSL/cable router adds yet another wrinkle to the increasingly convoluted world of home-networking appliances. In addition to the usual four-port Ethernet switch and integrated 802.11b access point, the Siemens unit offers power-line connectivity, which turns your entire home's AC wiring into a high-speed network. But we did notice a few relatively minor quibbles. For instance, the user documentation and the setup wizard could both use a little polishing. The SpeedStream also comes with a skimpy one-year warranty. Overall, however, the SpeedStream 2524's low price and revolutionary features make it one of the best home-networking solutions currently available. The SpeedStream 2524 power-line wireless DSL/cable router is fairly easy to install; it took us about 15 minutes from start to finish. In addition to the router, the box includes a power cord, a screw-in wireless antenna, a quick-start guide, a warranty and safety card, and a user documentation CD. Annoyingly, Siemens fails to include an Ethernet cable, so make sure you pick up some extras at the store.

To get started, simply plug your cable/DSL connection into the router's WAN port and any wired computers into the four Ethernet ports located on the back of the router. For wireless and power-line connections, just screw in the included wireless antenna and remember to outfit each computer with the appropriate adapter. (To activate the power-line network, simply plug in the router.) The glossy quick-start guide offers useful step-by-step instructions but lacks screenshots or basic troubleshooting tips. If you need help, you'll have to claw your way through the detailed, cumbersome, 84-page electronic manual.



The setup wizard makes installation easy.


If you're running Windows Me or XP, which both support Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), your PC should automatically detect the router and place a shortcut to the device's Web-based configuration tool on your desktop. (If not, you can also get to the configuration tool by typing the router's default IP address into your computer's Web browser.) Next, the setup wizard automatically launches and asks you a few questions about your Internet connection. Once you complete the wizard, however, we recommend that you immediately change the router's default SSID and enable WEP via the Web-based configuration tool.



External antenna connector.
Like most wireless routers, the SpeedStream 2524 includes a four-port Ethernet switch and a built-in 802.11b access point. However, the Siemens unit goes a step further by adding power-line connectivity. While many people still seem reluctant to embrace the concept, this device could turn the tide by making the technology more accessible. How? By combining 802.11b and power-line capabilities in one device, you can easily overcome potential range issues--one of the biggest complaints about wireless networking. Although wireless lets you roam free, the range of a single access point typically covers only a small house at best. To solve the problem, the SpeedStream 2524 turns the entire electrical wiring in your home into a live network. Best of all, with the new Siemens SpeedStream power-line 802.11b wireless access point, you get instant network access using your wireless-enabled PDA or notebook from any outlet in your home.

If you're interested in sharing wireless broadband, the SpeedStream 2524 features a removable antenna. If you want to extend your range, you can easily add a directional antenna, such as the SpeedStream 6dBi wireless directional indoor antenna.

The SpeedStream 2524 offers many advanced features, which you can access via the Web-based configuration tool. For example, you can configure the firewall to allow for special applications such as Internet games or conferencing apps that may require open ports and multiple connections. The Access Control screen also lets you grant users permission to surf the Internet, while denying them access to your LAN. This works great if you want to set up a public hotspot but keep your LAN safe from wayward hackers. In addition to support for dynamic DNS and virtual servers, you can also set up one PC as a DMZ host.



Access Control screen.


The SpeedStream 2524 also offers the standard security features. It supports 64- and 128-bit WEP for wireless clients and 56-bit DES for power-line clients. But although it supports VPN connections, the SpeedStream isn't compatible with the IEEE 802.1x standard, which lets you manage network access between a client and an access point using an authentication server.


In CNET Labs' tests, the SpeedStream 2524 power-line wireless DSL/cable router delivered top-notch performance. At 4.9Mbps, its 802.11b throughput compares favorably with that of the HP wireless gateway hn200w and the Belkin wireless cable/DSL gateway router. And while most 802.11g-draft-compliant and 802.11a products clock in with four and five times as much throughput, respectively, the SpeedStream 2524 still offers plenty of speed for Web-surfing couch potatoes. Throughput over the power-line interface hit rates of slightly more than 5.8Mbps in our tests, making it a great solution for those hard-to-reach areas of your home. In range tests, we managed to maintain a connection with the SpeedStream at distances of a bit more than 100 feet in a typical office environment, making it a solid choice for most homes.

Chariot 802.11b throughput tests
Measured in Mbps (longer bars indicate better performance)
Belkin wireless cable/DSL gateway router
4.9 
HP wireless gateway hn200w
4.9 
Siemens SpeedStream 2524 power-line wireless DSL/cable router
4.9 
Microsoft wireless base station
4.6 
Netgear CG814M wireless cable modem gateway
3.9 
 
Chariot power-line throughput tests
Measured in Mbps (longer bars indicate better performance)
Siemens SpeedStream 2524 power-line wireless DSL/cable router
5.8 
Netgear XE602 power-line Ethernet adapter
5.2 
GigaFast 14Mbps HomePlug USB adapter
5.0 
Linksys Instant power-line USB adapter
4.5 
Phonex NeverWire 14 power-line Ethernet bridge
4.3 
 
Chariot 802.11b response time
Measured in milliseconds (shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP wireless gateway hn200w
3.0 
Siemens SpeedStream 2524 power-line wireless DSL/cable router
3.0 
Belkin wireless cable/DSL gateway router
4.0 
Microsoft wireless base station
4.0 
Netgear CG814M wireless cable modem gateway
4.0 
 
Chariot power-line response time
Measured in milliseconds (shorter bars indicate better performance)
Linksys Instant power-line USB adapter
3.0 
Netgear XE602 power-line Ethernet adapter
3.0 
Phonex NeverWire 14 power-line Ethernet bridge
3.0 
Siemens SpeedStream 2524 power-line wireless DSL/cable router
3.0 
GigaFast 14Mbps HomePlug USB adapter
4.0 
 
Range test
Relative performance in typical office setting
SmartBridges AirPointPro
131 
Netgear MR814 802.11b cable/DSL wireless router
111 
Siemens SpeedStream 2524 power-line wireless DSL/cable router
102 
3Com OfficeConnect wireless cable/DSL gateway
96 
Linksys WAP54G Wireless-G access point
85 
 
For practical throughput tests, CNET Labs uses NetIQ's Chariot 4.3 software as its benchmark. For wireless testing, the clients and routers are set up to transmit at short ranges and at maximum signal strength. CNET Labs' response-time tests are also run with Chariot software using the TCP protocol. Response time measures how long it takes to send a request and receive a response over a network connection. Throughput and response time are probably the two most important indicators of user experience over a network. For more details on how we test networking devices, see the CNET Labs site.



Siemens support page.


The SpeedStream 2524 power-line wireless DSL/cable router comes with a measly one-year warranty, which is light compared to D-Link's three-year warranty and 3Com's lifetime pledge. You can double the standard one-year warranty, but you must register your product online. (The registration form asks for your name and address--nothing too threatening.) On the plus side, Siemens offers toll-free, 24/7 phone support for the lifetime of the product. You can also find firmware upgrades, up-to-date troubleshooting tips, FAQs, and user manuals on the well-organized Siemens Web site. In addition, the Web site contains a networking knowledge section with brief overviews on wireless, power-line, and Ethernet technology, along with links to SpeedStream products.

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