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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Features

The 854T's wireless settings are straightforward, if not a bit more cryptic than the DIR-655's, as shown in Figure 7. The router defaults to using its legacy-friendly 20 MHz channel mode, which is called Up to 145 Mbps, in order to meet Wi-Fi Draft 2.0 certification requirements. The other Mode settings are Up to 54 Mbps for legacy 11b/g operation and Up to 300 Mbps, which puts the 854T into an auto 20/40 MHz channel mode for maximum throughput.

Wireless Setup
Click to enlarge image

Figure 7: Wireless Setup
Tip! Tip: The 40 MHz mode Extension channel is always located four channels away from the Primary Channel. So if the channel is set to 1, the Extension channel will be set to 5. Note that for higher Primary channels where the Extension channel would be higher than 11, the Extension "wraps around" to be 4 channels below the Primary.

I should note that the mode explanations given in the on-screen help aren't very helpful and don't mention anything about channel bandwidth. You do get nice marketing names for each mode, though: "Legacy", "Neighbor Friendly" and "Performance" for the 54, 145, and 300 Mbps modes respectively.

Channel selection defaults to Auto, or you can set the channel of your choice. You have no control over the primary and extension channels when using the Up to 300 Mbps mode, which is understandable. But the Router Status page reports only the primary channel in 300 Mbps mode, not even informing the user that multiple channels are in use. This is bad practice, which I hope that Netgear changes in a future firmware revision.

For security, WEP, WPA and WPA2 are all supported, including a mixed WPA/WPA2 mode. Note that only the PSK forms of WPA/2 are supported and WPS is not.

The Advanced Wireless settings shown in Figure 8 are a bit sparse for my taste and have some odd choices for "advanced" settings, such as the ability to turn off the radio.

Advanced Wireless Setup

Figure 8: Advanced Wireless Setup

The Wireless Optimization Settings are once again cryptic with uninformative "Help" explanations. I can understand Netgear's desire to keep things simple for users. But I think they have simplified too much, especially for "advanced" settings.

MAC address filters are provided via the Wireless Card Access List feature, which, when enabled, blocks access to all wireless clients except those in the list. You can use the pick list of associated clients provided or enter MAC addresses manually.

In all, the list of missing "Advanced" features seems to be longer than what's included, i.e.

  • Transmit rate
  • Transmit power
  • Base advertised rate
  • WDS (Bridging / repeating)
  • WMM (Wireless Multimedia)
  • Client isolation

While these missing features might be ok for a low-end $50 wireless router, they don't help the 854T differentiate itself among premium-priced wireless routers.

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