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Wi-Fi Router Charts

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Mesh System Charts

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The Broadband Usage Meter (traffic meter) is meant to prevent nasty surprises for folks whose ISP is experimenting with monthly bandwidth-based pricing. Figure 6 taken from the Beta User Manual shows that the feature doesn't allow bandwidth control, just measurement. That is, except for its ability to disconnect and disable the Internet connection when a programmed limit is reached.

The traffic meter also was "improved" by the new firmware. It now supports all WAN types, where previously it supported only PPTP and PPPoE.

Traffic meter

Figure 6: Traffic meter

I couldn't find any evidence of automatic QoS or the "fine-tuned QoS algorithms for video that reduce packet loss and jitter and enable seamless streaming of HD video over Wi-Fi" mentioned in the press release. This might be a reference to Wireless Multimedia (WMM), which is a feature supported in all draft 802.11n routers. But, as shown in Does Wi-Fi MultiMedia (WMM) Really Do Anything?, it doesn't provide benefit for most users.

What you do get, as in other routers is priority-based QoS, which must be set manually. Figure 7 shows the QoS controls for Internet Access.

Manual QoS for Internet access

Figure 7: Manual QoS for Internet access

There are two QoS service groups for Applications and Online Games. One of four priority levels can be assigned to each service, to all traffic for a specific router LAN port or by client MAC address.

Although the QoS features are better than nothing, they are not as convenient as the Ubicom StreamEngine-based automatic QoS found in many D-Link routers. And they don't provide any control of download bandwidth or priority, which means you can't control download bandwidth hogs.

I'm glad to see that NETGEAR has included multiple SSID support for Guest access. This allows you to create a separate wireless network, with its own SSID and wireless security settings for each radio. Figure 8 shows the controls, which include a checkbox to allow guests to access your normal LAN traffic.

Guest SSID setting

Figure 8: Guest SSID setting

Closing Thoughts

Assuming that NETGEAR doesn't mess up the implementation, the WNDR3700 should put them back into the game for dual-band draft 802.11n routers. Simultaneous dual-band operation, USB drive file sharing (albeit slow) and guest wireless access are the main draws.

It will also probably be fast enough to not slow down even 100 Mbps Internet connections. But don't pin your hopes on it blowing away your current draft 11n router's wireless performance. I've been down that path too many times before. And I've yet to see a product that clearly beats all the rest.

Read the full review.

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