Review of the 3Com OfficeConnect ADSL Wireless 11g Firewall Router. A twin antenna 54Mbps 802.11g wireless router in a standard OfficeConnect case.
What's in the box
Getting StartedThe router is in a standard OfficeConnect case, and be either wall mounted, stacked on other OfficeConnect kit, or left to stand on a desk (with the 4 supplied stick-on rubber feet) - just as you'd expect from 3com's excellent OfficeConnect range. I was suprised to find no microfilter supplied with the router, though I'm sure this helps keeps the cost of the router down.
The router has all of the standard features you'd expect : firewall, port fowarding, dmz host, dhcp server, remote logging, upnp, wep, wpa, wds, and 4 ethernet ports, along with some less common features, such as Dynamic-DNS support and RIP routing. It also has a 14-day trial of 3com's content filter for limiting access to different categories of websites.
When setting up a wireless router, it's always best to start configuring it via ethernet first, so wireless security can be enabled before connecting to it wirelessly the first time. The first time you connect to the router it starts you in its setup wizard, which walks you through getting your router configured and connected to the internet. I was very impressed with the admin interface on the 3com router, it was much better put together than some other wireless routers and was very easy to setup, while provided easy access to more advanced features, such as setting up port-forwarding on a dmz host.
Initial wireless configuration defaults to unencrypted as with all wireless kit, but turning on WPA encryption was very simple. The router supports both WPA and WEP for compatability with older wireless cards. It also supports WDS for wirelessly connecting routers and access-points, and even has an option for turning off wireless, which is a useful feature.
The 3com supports the newer ADSL2 standard, and the wizard connected to the ISP without a hitch. The status page provides details of the ADSL connection status as well as the snr and attenuation figures for the connection, which makes diagnosing problems much easier.
PerformanceAs was expected from an ADSL2 router, the adsl connection was significantly more stable than the ISP provided USB modem it was replacing.
Dissappointingly the router's two antenna are not removeable, and so cannot be upgraded to larger antenna, or better positioned antenna. However initial wireless range tests exceeded my expectations, with a stable wireless connection at over 150ft away through 3 brick walls, a pc and a hot water tank. I really was very impressed, expecially as this isn't the latest mimo or 802.11n wireless kit, but just a standard 54g wireless router. There was certainly nowhere indoors that I couldn't get a good signal, even with a neigbour's access point on the same channel the 3com didn't have any problems. (The user guide in fact claims a wireless range of 1000ft).
Unlike older OfficeConnect kit, the router comes with a nice small power-adapter, rather than a brick style power supply.
ConclusionThere are currently some very good deals available on this wireless router, epecially ones where it comes bundled with either a pcmcia (3CRWE754G72-AGBUN) or usb (3CRWE554G72T+3CRUSB) wireless card. If you are wanting a wireless router to share your internet connection, and don't need the 100+Mbps wireless speed that some wireless kit offers, then I'd have to recommend this kit for both it's very professional software and web interface, it's great wireless range, and most of all it's low cost.
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