Zyxel has a budget wireless router in the Zyxel NBG-417N. The feature-set it brings to the table is frugal, and it does not perform as well as other routers priced just slightly higher. Yet this product from a brand name with solid recognition has its finer moments, if only you were inclined to overlook the negatives.
The Zyxel NBG-417N is a simple, white coloured Wireless-N router for the home. Other than its detachable antenna, it makes no other high-level claims, so there is no surprise about its affordable price. However the same simplicity leaves it bereft of almost every facility that has filtered down to home routers today. These include Gigabit Ethernet ports, 300 Mbps Wireless support, multiple antennae, and network storage over USB.
The package we received for review had two antennae in the box, one small and one tall. You can use either one of the two at a time since the router’s antenna is detachable. The supplied antennae are of the familiar type, where one can tweak it around and place it pointing to any direction and angle that is optimal under given operating conditions. The antenna is rated at 2 dBi and you can replace it with any other compatible one. If you need a higher-powered antenna, we suggest ordering a branded one, since the dirt-cheap ones sold in the grey market come with their own set of risks. The rest of the package contents were standard, as the specifications found on Zyxel’s homepage for the Zyxel NBG-417N suggest. The router can be wall-mounted, placed vertically to save space, or placed horizontally in the classic fashion.
Setup of the router was quick, and the web interface to configure it was on par with what you’d expect from Zyxel products – not too many acronyms thus making it easy for inexperienced users, and not dumbed down too much thus keeping pace with the demands of experienced users. All of the usual routing and security standards are present. The Zyxel NBG-417N operates over the 2.4 GHz radio spectrum and supports Wireless-N (standard 150 Mbps), Wireless-G/B (802.11g and 802.11b), Wi-Fi Protected Standard (thus featung a WPS button), and bandwidth management (QoS).
On the wired connectivity side, are four 100 Mbps Ethernet ports for wired LAN, and one more Ethernet port for uplinking to the WAN (i.e., modem or a switch giving access to the Internet or the rest of the LAN) which can be re-configured as a LAN port in case you won’t be using it as an uplink. If you do so, the wireless side of the router will have to be used in access point mode. As with quite a few current routers, the Zyxel NBG-417N lets you schedule the timings of when the wireless signal will be active, so if you are concerned about radiation or won’t be at home during a defined period, it would make sense to keep the wireless radio switched off; the wired LAN will still be usable during the time.
Tested in the PCWorld.in Labs
During tests, it performed acceptably for a router priced in the budget-range. The area it did cover could only see average speeds. What we have in the performance tab is the consistent performance averaged over a period of time. The speeds seen are all from real world testing, and include walls and floors (of a multi-storey building) placed in-between the wireless router and client. On flat open ground/surface with no objects to interfere in between and no walls, just a green field – we saw a maximum range of 22m (which isn't a pretty number, we'd expect 25 metres at least). This was not expected, so we confirmed it again, but beyond that distance the wireless signal was as good as absent. Zyxel offers a warranty of three years.
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