It’s hard for me to compare Netgear’s WNDR3700 to similar routers for two reasons: 1. It’s my first N router. 2. My family bought another one of these.
Our house is fairly long, and the Buffalo G router we had just wasn’t providing reliable, strong service from one corner all the way to the other. We bought the first Netgear as a top of the line N dual-band ethernet router. Realizing it probably wouldn’t be perfect, and that both would be taken to apartments in the near future, we bought a second to extend the range.
That was a few months ago, and I can say for certain that my Internet connection has gotten from on and off every few seconds to reliably on. Now whether that’s Netgear’s routers or upgrading to an Airport Extreme card from an Airport card, I’m grateful. I’m even able to play some games, like Starcraft, wirelessly where in the past I couldn’t even get basic websites to load in less than a minute.
As I alluded to before, Netgear’s WNDR3700 comes with a bunch of cool features. This router uses N technology, so it has the fastest speeds available. It’s also dual-band. Many wireless devices, i.e. cordless phones, operated on the 2.4ghz spectrum. The new sales pitch is routers that can also broadcast on the 5ghz spectrum. The signal dies a lot faster, but it’s supposed to have less interference. Another plus with this router is that it includes gigabit ethernet, the high-speed LAN connection of the future.
Finally, it offers a host of settings available without proprietary software. Router access can be gained by any computer on the network via HTTP. Want to block certain websites, you can do that? Looking for a log of who’s been using your router? It can do that too. It can even create a separate guest wireless network that can be set to access just the Internet or access the entire network. Want to keep your nework secure? Simply set up MAC filtering and a WPA2 password. And just in case you don’t one of Netgear’s expensive – but lovely – network storage drives, this router has a built-in USB 2.0 port to turn most external hard drives into their network counterparts.
The problem is, at least for me, everything falls just short. The router settings are awesome, but the guest network cripples all broadcasts out of the box. I purchased one of these routers for my office as well, and I needed to spend hours with tech support before they admitted it was a known issue and gave me a beta firmware update.
We set up our routers at home in bridge mode, with one router pointing to the other and pretending there’s just one. Sadly, Netgear decided against allowing WPA and WPA2 security in bridge mode – you can only use really long WEP codes.
The other issues I’ve found is the strength of signal. My brother swears it’s great and supposedly my cousin got an 80+ percent signal on his laptop a floor below and a room across from one of the routers. I’ve discovered a max of 35 percent on my Mac Pro desktop one room over, and the same on my Powerbook laptop. I even had an iPod touch on in the room below, and it struggled to find a signal. Considering my brother set it up with Netgear technical support on the line, I’m surprised it isn’t stronger.