It’s been a long time since Netgear updated their home router products (over a year, in fact) – probably due in large part to the success of the WNDR3700, which proved to be a reliable product. However, the wireless router n market has become overheated and you’ve probably noticed that wherever you go, you find lots of available WiFi networks to connect to.
All of these WiFi devices create crosstalk and interference. Add to that microwave ovens, cordless phones and baby monitors and you soon realise that the home environment is more of an urban war zone for WiFi than the office. Wireless routers have had to compensate by channel hopping in order to maintain a clear signal. Users have experienced drop-outs and latency in service – all of which reflect poorly on the router manufacturers. In other words – flaky Internet connectivity.
Netgear is hoping to address this situation with their brand new N600 Premium Edition wireless n router (aka WNDR3800). Reviews are starting to come in and it looks likely that this could be the best wireless router 2011.
Be forewarned that Netgear has a hopelessly complex router model numbering system. There are many models that go under the ‘N600’ umbrella. This one is the WNDR3800 – NOT the WNDR3700 or the WNDR4000 (which was a bit of a flop).
For a detailed review of the previous WNDR3700r2, check out this post from SmallNetBuilder. It should give you a good idea of what to expect in the new N600 model.
The first thing that the WNDR3800 does is upgrade its microprocessor and flash memory (16MG Flash and 128MB RAM), enabling it to managed higher sustained throughput. It says 300Mbps on the box but user reports for the WNDR3700r2 showed that a 400Mbps sustained throughput was possible on the previous model. Equally important is its ability to take full advantage of the speed of your Internet connection, given that faster bandwidth is coming online all the time. This is crucial given the need to run firewall security services and NAT addressing for your network devices. All-in-all, these added computations take processing power and, if the router isn’t up to it, you won’t be getting the full benefit of your Internet speed over WiFi.
Netgear dropped WEP security support for some reason on the WNDR3700, even from the ‘guest’ network – so we expect the same for this model. As for whether you still cannot restart the device from the browser admin client, this remains to be seen. Please let us know if you have any info on this!
The WNDR3800 is advertising a new technology that Netgear is branding as, “Clear Channel Selector”. The idea behind this is to allow the router to navigate the airwaves to move smoothly between channels and find ones with the least interference while maintaining connectivity with your WiFi devices. Real world tests are hard to come by but this should add stability to your network.
As with previous Netgear router products, you can attach a printer or a hard drive to the router and share them with your network. Network printers are easily found by your computing devices over the Bonjour protocol. Enjoying video content over your network is more exciting if you have a DNLA compatible receiver. This allows you to stream the video content directly from your hard drive over Wireless to your television, for example. For more information on how to do this, check out Netgear’s info on ReadySHARE.
Netgear DNLA Video Streaming
The other novel addition to the N600 product is Netgear’s “ReadySHARE Cloud service”. This essentially turns your netgear device into a free cloud server. What is a Cloud Server, you ask? Well, it’s similar to what Apple hopes to roll out soon with iCloud but is a little less integrated with all of your iOS devices and it’s more agnostic (supporting Windows).
Netgear’s ReadySHARE Cloud Server Service
By plugging a hard drive into the USB port of the N600 router, you can make all the contents of the drive available not only to all your networked devices but, also, available over the Internet. In order for this to work, you need to register the device with Netgear’s Cloud service. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to browse the hard drive from anywhere in the world. Netgear also provides an iPhone and Android App to do the same thing on an iPhone/Android device. You can even take a photo on the iPhone through its native App and then post that photo directly to your personal Cloud Server device (e.g. the hard drive that you have attached to your Netgear router).
Cloud storage is likely to be the buzzword of 2012. At least you can enjoy some of the benefits now with the N600. If anything, it would be very handy to have access to all of your photos, music, movies and documents from anywhere in the world.
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