Review of the Netgear DG834G 54Mbps Wireless ADSL Firewall Router. A standard single antenna, 4 port adsl modem, firewall router.
What's in the box
Getting StartedThe router is a standard netgear looking white case, the same as the rest of their home networking kit, and comes with a couple of feet so it can be stood vertically to save deskspace. It doesn't have any wall mounting holes on the underside however, as I presume most home users wouldn't mount it this way. The antenna has a standard RP-SMA connector, and can be unscrewed and replaced with something more powerful, or an antenna on a lead.
This router has most of the features you'd expect on a standard wireless adsl router, and some features you wouldn't expect on a product as this price range. It comes with dhcp, firewall, 4 ethernet ports, dmz host, nat, vpn pass-through and a trial copy of some home network security software. For a router with a detachable antenna however, it doesn't come with either WDS support or variable transmit levels. Whilst most home users might not bother adjusting the transmit power if they attach a larger antenna, WDS is useful for getting the wireless signal to hard to reach corners of a large house or garden. I guess Netgear have done their market research however, and know what features most users want.
The one suprising feature the router has, that most at this price bracket don't, is VPN support, and not just VPN pass-through support, but support for creating tunnels between two routers, or between a client and router, which is ideal for setting up a secure tunnel between small branch offices, or for connecting from home to a work network, or even for securely connecting home when using your laptop in an internet cafe.
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. On connecting your browser to the router, you are guided through a very simple setup wizard, that has easy to understand help on the right hand side of the screen.
As with most wireless kit, initially wireless is configured unencrypted, but turning on WPA encryption was very simple. The router supports both WPA and WEP for compatability with older wireless cards.
Once connected, there is a handy popup connection status window, that shows the adsl attenuation, and signal to noise ratio, as well as details of the ethernet, wireless and wan traffic.
PerformanceAs this is just a standard 802.11g wireless router, the range and speed were in line with other routers, which is quite a bit better than most early 802.11g hardware. File transfers ranged around 22-24Mbps and a good signal could be achieved throughout a two story brick house at speeds connection speeds of 36Mbps and above. More expensive 108Mbps and extended range kit is available, but for sharing an ADSL connection, the netgear transfer speeds are faster than the broadband connection it is sharing.
As with most adsl hardware built to the adsl2+ standard, the router managed a very stable ADSL connection, with better signal-to-noise figures than a basic usb adsl modem.
ConclusionAs the router has standard 802.11g wireless, it is good value for money, and as long as the area you are trying to cover wirelessly isn't too large then will perform well. For connecting offices together it is much cheaper than other adsl vpn routers, though without WDS support would only be of wireless use in a relatively small office. Overall the router has a slightly odd mix of features, but performs well and is very simple to setup - making the netgear dg834g a good buy for a home user.
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