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Wi-Fi Router Charts

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Setup

SMC has done a complete makeover of their browser-based admin interface for the VBR. It uses the blue-toned scheme that's used on their 2755W 802.11a Access Point, and has its good and not-so-good points.

Pointing your browser to the default address of 192.168.2.1 brings up a login screen that you just need to click on the LOGIN button to get past, since the VBR ships without a password and doesn't force you to set one.

Thumbs down Although having a well-known (and easy to guess) password, as many routers have, doesn't provide the best security, I'm uncomfortable with SMC's choice of shipping with no password at all. My objection is reinforced by the fact that the "EZ 3-Click" setup doesn't include a step for setting a password. I suggest you go to the System > Password Settings page and set up a strong password ASAP.

The first screen lets you choose between the Setup Wizard and Advanced Setup methods. The Setup Wizard has three steps:

1) Set Timezone to adjust the time that's automatically picked up from an NTP server

2) Select the Broadband Type (Cable, Fixed-IP xDSL, PPPoE xDSL)

3) Enter IP address info. The title really doesn't properly describe the third step, which has you enter information that is specific to the type of connection you chose in Step 2. For Cable, you can enter Host Name and WAN Mac Address. Choosing "Fixed-IP xDSL" lets you enter IP address, Subnet mask, and Gateway and DNS server information. The final choice of "PPPoE xDSL" allows entry of Username, Password, and Service name. You can also set the MTU, Maximum Idle time, and whether you want to auto-reconnect.

Although this wizard appropriately narrows the configuration choices according to the user's connection type, the user still has to correctly decide what kind of connection they have. I'd like to see SMC offer something more like NETGEAR's Install Wizard that auto-detects the connection type, freeing the networking newbie from that often-confusing choice.

Selecting the Advanced Setup path gives you full access to all the VBR's wonders, and shows a PPTP WAN setting option in addition to the previous three types. (PPTP is used by some US, and many European xDSL providers instead of PPPoE).

SMC7004VBR: Advanced Setup screen

Figure 1: Advanced Setup

(click on the image for a full-sized view)

A quick review of each of the WAN connection type screens showed that everything that you'll need to get properly authenticated is in place, and you shouldn't have any problems connecting to your ISP.

LAN-side setup is straightforward, with the DHCP server enabled and ready to go. A nice touch is that you can set the DHCP Lease time in programmed increments from 30 minutes to 2 weeks, or have the lease never expire.

The overall responsiveness was pretty good with quick navigation from screen to screen. You'll slow down a bit when saving settings though, with most changes taking a few seconds, but some requiring a 30 second -or-so reboot cycle. You get a "Your Data is being saved" screen for the longer saves, however, and the screen does auto-refresh when the save is done.

Remote administration can be enabled (it's off by default), and you can restrict access to a single IP address if you like.

Tip! Tip: Remote admin is directed to Port 8080 (this is not documented). So if your WAN IP is 222.22.22.2, then you would enter http://222.22.22.2:8080 into your browser to connect from the WAN side of the router.

You can also reboot the router, or force it to reload factory defaults (although these functions are on two different screens) via the admin interface, and save and restore router configuration to / from a local file. The VBR does not allow multiple administrator logins at a time and tells you the IP address of the current administrator if there is one, when you try to log in. I didn't find any holes in the login authentication, although the router does not automatically log you out when you quit your browser. You can also set the time for the idle admin auto-logout (Password Settings screen).

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