Netgear has gone for a gloss black finish on the front. The Netgear DGN3500 Range Max router 'sits up' on small rubber feet but these are too small and the router doesn't feel well especially stable. Rather than risk knocking it over, we laid the Range Max down flat. The router itself is attractive and well built.
Round the back of the Netgear DGN3500 Range Max are four Ethernet ports, a DSSL connection and one USB port so you can hook up a hard drive to your network. The built-in antennae meant we couldn't tweak the router to maximise our signal. However, the Netgear DGN3500 Range Max router also works as a wireless repeater if you have a USB adaptor so you can increase the wireless range that way.
Installation is a doddle for Windows users. We used the browser page device to manage installation but there's also a smart wizard CD that takes users through the process of setting up the Netgear DGN3500 Range Max.
Mac users don't get such an easy ride: to set up the Netgear DGN3500 Range Max to work with the Mac OS involves wading through the extensive PDF. Another bone of contention was that this router didn't automatically keep the ISP settings when we retried different connection methods.
The Netgear DGN3500 Range Max supports multiple SSID (service set identifiers) so different users can set up their own passwords. It is well protected with WPA2 – the latest Wi-Fi security encryption standard.
Bonus points were also awarded for QoS preferences that allowed us to prioritise important emails over music downloads and to control other net access features. We also liked the push and connect feature that supports WiFi Protected Setup (WPS). The button sits at the top of the Netgear DGN3500 Range Max router and works with a WPS adaptor to automatically set up the wireless in one press.
The Netgear DGN3500 supports draft n at a theoretical maximum throughput of 300Mbps – this figure is the fastest Wi-Fi version available. Although the Netgear fell far short of this figure, we found its 11.g and 11.n capabilities better than average for the group with no discernible signal loss through two walls. Our 700MB test files copied in 2 minutes and 11 seconds using the n setting and dropped to 6 min 33 sec on the older 80.11.g setting. We found a speedy 1min 3sec 11.n with the router next to the test laptop.
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