capsule review

Netgear RangeMax Next Wireless-N Gigabit Router WNR3500

At a Glance
  • Netgear RangeMax Next Wireless-N Gigabit Router WNR3500

    PCWorld Rating

    A workhorse n router with very good performance and features. Its ability to expand range wirelessly with additional access points is a plus for large offices or homes.

The Netgear RangeMax Next Wireless-N Gigabit Router WRT3500's design is unusual and somewhat annoying. You can't wall-mount the tall, upright case, and fitting it on a desk is diffcult, too, because you can't stack it and you need a reasonably clear area around it. It's cool-looking though, especially when the ring of blue lights around the top flash to show network activity.

The router's performance was mediocre at close range--about the same as that of the much-cheaper Belkin N Wireless Router F5D8233-4 v3--but it improved greatly at long range. The unit also has a useful repeater function so you can extend your wireless range by adding Netgear access points.

The setup software and the intelligence of the router in recognizing our network conditions impressed us. The WNR3500 recognized that our DSL modem had the same LAN IP address--a network no-no--and promptly changed itself to a different range, telling us exactly what it was doing and why.

Excellent, context-sensitive help appears alongside the router configuration pages. It's always on, so you don't have to click a button to see it, unlike with most other routers.

The Netgear's routing features were very good, though not quite as deep as those of the competing Linksys Wireless-N Gigabit Router WRT310N. It has UPnP, WMM, DDNS, and DHCP reservation, but lacks WPA/WP2-Enterprise encryption support, which many businesses need. This should not be a big issue for people interested in a home network router, however.

If you want a good gigabit router with wireless range extension to cover larger office areas or a big house, the Netgear WNR3500 is a safe choice.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    A workhorse n router with very good performance and features. Its ability to expand range wirelessly with additional access points is a plus for large offices or homes.

    Pros

    • Wireless range extension
    • Well-designed setup software

    Cons

    • No WPA Enterprise support
    • Awkward upright design
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