Netgear ProSafe 802.11g Wireless Firewall with USB Print Server - Page 2

By Joseph Moran

February 23, 2004

Wireless Performance

The FWG114P uses an 802.11g radio based on a GlobespanVitara's Prism GT chipset. Since the unit is a member of Netgear's metal-chassis ProSafe product line -- those that look like a rectangular blue metal box -- it uses a removable reverse-SMA antenna rather than the captive antenna of the company's lesser products. Both WPA and RADIUS authentication are supported.

In my opinion, Netgear's three-column configuration interface continues to set the usability standard for the industry: categories on the left, context-sensitive help on the right, and the selected category settings in the broad middle. This layout makes features exceedingly easy to find and configure.

Close range wireless performance of the FWG114P was top-notch, posting 23.61 Mbps throughput at 10 feet. Throughput held up reasonably well with WPA turned on, with 18.43 Mbps at the same distance.

The FWG114P's wireless performance fell off much more quickly than most other products I've tested in my environment though. High throughput was maintained until 50 feet, but then it dropped roughly in half to 11.02 Mbps, where it stayed until falling sharply again at 100 feet to 5.66 Mbps, and then finally to 2.59 Mbps at 125 feet.

I think the FWG114P's poor throughput at that distance was somewhat hamstrung by its low-profile design and single antenna, which put it at a disadvantage in my testing environment. Products with more altitude and diversity antennas fared better. You might have to experiment more with placement of the FWG114P to achieve best results, and the unit is wall mountable.

Security

As is true of previous ProSafe products, it's strong on security and related features. You can block sites by domain name or keyword, and the FWG114P is one of the very few products in the class that can also block things like cookies and ActiveX and Java code. By disabling them you effectively disable browsing to the vast majority of sites however and there are times when that capability might prove useful, so use that feature with caution. Rules to restrict both inbound and outbound traffic can also be defined, and a scheduling feature can limit restrictions to specific hours and days.

The FWG114P offers extensive logging capabilities, with the ability to record (and/or output to syslog) nine different parameters from attack activity on the WAN interface to LAN access of Web sites and newsgroups. Periodic e-mailing of the logs can be scheduled, along with immediate notification of attacks on the router.

Summary

In retrospect, the FWG114P is a somewhat pricey and doesn't have absolutely every feature you could possibly want--WDS bridge/repeater support comes to mind. On the other hand, WDS is not something everyone needs, and the modem failover and certainly the USB printer feature will be worth the price premium for most.

In short, the FWG114P is probably the most full-featured WLAN router I've seen to date, and it should satisfy the needs of the majority of users.

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