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Wireless Reviews

Inside

Both devices use the same Media Tek MT7602N SoC. The Ethernet controller and Wi-Fi radio are built into the chipset. According to Wikidevi, the Buffalo WMR-300 has 8 MB of flash (Macronix MX25L6406EM21-12G) and 64 MB of RAM (Hynix H5PS5162GFR-S6c)) The NETGEAR PR2000 has 64 MB of RAM (Etron Tech EM68B16CWCD-25H and an undetermined amount of Flash.

For those of you who are interested in the internal layout, below is a photo of each device from the FCC database.

Buffalo WMR-300 with case (left) and PCB with heat sink removed (right)

Buffalo WMR-300 with case (left) and PCB with heat sink removed (right)

NETGEAR PCB top (left) and PCB bottom (right)

NETGEAR PCB top (left) and PCB bottom (right)

Setup

As noted in the introduction above, both devices seamlessly connected to the internet when I initially tested with a wired connection. Both devices arrive pre-configured with Wi-Fi security enabled and use the standard admin/password pair. A label on the bottom of each router shows the default SSID, network key, user name/password along with either a link or the IP address of the router. The image below shows the label for each router.

Labels for the WMR-300 (left) and the NETGEAR PR2000 (right)

Labels for the WMR-300 (left) and the NETGEAR PR2000 (right)

I did run into a small glitch when logging into the Buffalo WMR-300. In the last firmware update (V1.03 8/5/2013), the change log indicates that the LAN-side address changed from 192.168.11.1 to 192.168.13.1. That's a bit surprising, as virtually every Buffalo router that I've reviewed has used the default 192.168.11.1 address. While the new subnet doesn't change the functionality of the router, the user guide, the label and the quick start guide still all refer to the original ".11" subnet.

Operating Modes

The Buffalo WMR-300 supports only two operation modes: Router and AP (which Buffalo calls bridge mode). Missing in the Buffalo device is the WISP mode that allows you to connect to a wireless network for your WAN connection. The NETGEAR PR2000 supports all five operating modes as summarized in the table below:

  Buffalo AirStation WMR-300N NETGEAR Trek PR2000
Router Y Y
AP Mode Y Y
Hot Spot (WISP) Mode N Y
Client Mode N Y
Repeater N Y
Travel Router Operating Modes

VPN Passthrough

As noted in our previously review of N150 travel routers, VPN passthrough is especially important for business travelers as they are likely to use VPN technology to securely connect to their corporate networks. And, for security when using public Wi-Fi networks, using a VPN is also a really good idea. If you travel internationally, you'll also find that a VPN can provide you to US-based services such as Pandora, Netflix, Hulu, etc. These services block access for IP addresses originating outside the US.

The table below summarizes the VPN passthrough support for each of the N300 routers. The NETGEAR PR2000 supports all three types of passthough, but the Buffalo WMR-300 only supports PPTP. According to Wikipedia, "PPTP has been the subject of many security analyses and serious security vulnerabilities have been found in the protocol." IPSec is generally considered much more secure.

Protocol Buffalo Airstation WMR-300N NETGEAR Trek PR2000
IPSec Passthrough N Y
PPTP Passthrough Y Y
L2TP Passthrough N Y
Travel Router VPN Passthrough comparison

I tried testing both the NETGEAR Trek and the Buffalo AirStation with Hot Spot Shield, the VPN service that I have installed on my iPad. It's what I use at public hotspots and when I travel internationally to stay connected to US-based media content. While Hot Spot Shield doesn't disclose their underlying technology, I'm assuming that it's IPSec. The NETGEAR Trek, with all VPN pass through protocols enabled, was able to negotiate a secure tunnel, and mywanip.com showed an IP address different than the one that my ISP has assigned to me. When I connected my iPad to the Buffalo WMR-300, it was unable to establish a VPN session.

WPS

I tested both products to make sure that WPS worked as expected. I tested using the built-in WPS client in my WD TV Live media streamer. Both devices successfully negotiated a WPS connection using the push button method. The Buffalo WMR-300 has a physical button that you can press for a couple of seconds. On the NETGEAR PR2000, you have to log into the browser interface, navigate to Advanced settings, and select the WPS Wizard. Frankly, without a pushbutton, it would be easier to enter in the network key into the client than to go through the hassle of using a "software pushbutton" to start the WPS negotiation.

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