Wireless technology has infiltrated our lives to such a degree that some of us have a hard time functioning without Internet access. Having a solid wireless router is therefore a necessity, and not just a luxury, for many businesses needing quick and easy access to documents and company files, as well as other network resources. Netgear offers a wireless router for seemingly every budget and every performance level. Given its feature set, the N600 wireless dual-band Gigabit router (WNDR3700) fits comfortably in the high-performance category.
There’s a reason why Netgear promotes the WNDR3700 as the “ultimate networking machine.” It’s a great addition to any environment in which end users are expecting more than just a basic web connection. This device is especially well-suited for use on mobile notebook computer carts or in any location needing high-performance wireless.
The WNDR3700 had exceptional range when I tested it both at home and in a 1950s-era school building. The router features four Gigabit Ethernet ports and allows for simultaneous use of both 2.4-gigahertz and 5GHz frequency bands. This means that 802.11b and 802.11g clients won’t be disconnected every time an 802.11n client connects wirelessly, setting this router apart from other N-band routers. (Many entry-level N routers don’t support simultaneous operation, which can cause clients to drop their connection.)
The device’s digital media capabilities are equally impressive. The WNDR3700 has Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) certification, which means it can stream videos, photos and music to a high-definition television. I recorded an HD video in 720p and could stream it from one client to another without interruption or interference.
Other notable features include Netgear’s ReadyShare USB storage access for quick access to external USB devices supporting a variety of file formats; a 680-megahertz processor; and a broadband usage meter that tracks daily, weekly and monthly traffic. Performance-wise, expect throughput speeds of up to 300 megabits per second between clients when running on 5GHz frequencies.
Any network administrator or IT technician who has worked with Netgear products will be comfortable with this router’s easy-to-use, yet robust user interface. Other routers I’ve used have left me wanting for more granular controls. But the WNDR3700 allows techies to dive in and tweak quality of service settings, create static routes, configure port forwarding and set up remote management. The router is IPv6-certified, and it’s very easy to find the settings.
The WNDR3700 also supports up to four service set identifiers (SSIDs) for 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. This is especially helpful when supporting older equipment that may not be able to handle today’s encryption methods. Network administrators can establish a separate SSID for guests and then isolate those guests from each other so they’re unable to spread viruses, share files or otherwise access each other’s machines.
The firmware I received with the WNDR3700 was three months out of date upon arrival — a minor annoyance. Fortunately, the router gave me the option of checking for updated firmware when I logged in for the first time.
The other hiccup I encountered in testing involved the router software’s knowledgebase. When I clicked on the link, I received a “Page Not Found” message from Netgear’s website. It’s somewhat disconcerting (especially for non-techies) that the help system was unavailable. Still, I was very impressed with this router’s performance — especially the speed with which it transferred data over wireless connections. It’s a great little router that won’t bust an organization’s budget.