Netgear RangeMax DGN3500 review
draft 802.11n, 4x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet ports
Netgear's DGN3500 is a sleek looking but expensive ADSL router with Gigabit Ethernet and a built in USB storage server. Like Linksys's recent routers, it has internal rather than external antennas, so they can't be upgraded to increase the power of your wireless signal.
The router is easy to set up, whether you use the installation wizard on the accompanying CD or the wizard built into the router's web administration interface. Both require you to have an active internet connection to fully configure the device, but it's easy to set up and secure your network without one.
The easy-to-use wireless setup menu simply lists the theoretical maximum speed of your wireless connection - 54Mbit/s for b/g mode, 145Mbit/s for an 802.11n connection using only a single channel and up to 300Mbit/s for channel-bonding.
The DGN3500's USB port can be used to share a USB hard disk across your network as a Windows SMB share, or as a local or remote FTP or HTTP site. This is brilliantly easy to set up, although you'll need either a static IP address or a dynamic DNS account to reliably share a disk over the internet without its IP address potentially changing without warning. The router supports dynamic DNS via the free DynDNS service.
Other advanced options allow you to apply QoS preferences to give priority net access to specific programs and protocols, including a number of presets for popular games, VoIP and BitTorrent clients. You can also block sites by address or keyword and block services (such as BitTorrent) in general or for designated IP addresses on your network, as well as setting a schedule for these rules. Email notifications can be set to alert you when someone attempts to access a blocked site. This is great for families with small children or businesses that want to restrict their employees' casual browsing.
The router's throughput, while not the fastest around, was consistently good in tests using our Centrino 2 laptop, achieving a relatively poor 32.3Mbit/s at 1m, 38.7Mbit/s at 10m and 22Mbit/s at 20m. Using Netgear's own WN111 wireless adaptor (£35 inc VAT) produced only minor improvements to in our 1m test and none to our longer range tests.
If you need Gigabit Ethernet and USB storage server features, the DGN3500 is an excellent choice, with good throughput and an accessible interface.