SMC Barricade g 54 Mbps Wireless Router with USB Print Server

By Joseph Moran

March 05, 2004

Another router with USB print server sprouts, and features several unique features suitable for any home or small office.

Model: SMC2804WBRP-G
Price: $129.99
Pros: USB print server, 200 mW radio, supports WEP and WPA simultaneously
Cons: No dial backup or repeater function

For the longest time, it was impossible to find a WLAN router that included a USB print server. Now, right on the heels of the Netgear ProSave 11g Wireless Firewall with USB Print Server comes yet another router sporting a USB print server. This time it's SMC's Barricade g Broadband Router (SMC2804WBRP-G).

Features

The $129.99 SMC doesn't have every capability of the more advanced FWG114P, notably the serial port for modem backup or remote dial access, but it adds a few interesting and unique features.

Like the Netgear, the SMC WBR2804P-G is based on the GlobespanVirata PRISM GT chipset. The SMC uses a powerful 200mW radio and has dual external dipole antennas that are removable. A setup wizard is provided, but it turned out not to be necessary since the unit auto-configured itself to my broadband connection upon power-up.

I like the fact that the 2804WBRP-G's DHCP server lets you define lease duration, which is uncommon for products in this class. Lease times can range from a half-hour to "forever", and the latter setting helps you ensure that port mapping will always work on a particular client (i.e. a game console) without having to assign a static IP to the device.

While configuring the SMC's time zone information, I did notice that the device uses hard-coded IP addresses rather than FQDNs to define NTP servers. While this has no serious effect on users, the practice can potentially cause problems for the entities that maintain those time servers (the addresses specified in the 2804WBRP-G resolve to governmental and education institutions). Hard-coded NTP addresses in prior products from SMC and other vendors have caused considerable consternation among network administrators in the past.

The 2804WBRP-G offers remote management, but a minor inconvenience: you can only specify a single (or "any") remote IP for remote access, which forces you to leave the router reachable from any address even if you want to manage the router from more than one client on a particular remote network. The router's system log is difficult to read via the browser due to a small fixed window which requires scrolling both vertically and horizontally. Fortunately, it can be saved to a text file (manually) and syslog export is also supported.

Printing

Of course, the reason this product will be on many people's shopping list is the USB print server. At the moment though. SMC doesn't provide (either in its documentation or on its Web Site), a list of compatible USB printer makes or models. SMC is working on a list of verified compatible printers that will be posted to the company Web site in late March.

Nevertheless, setting up the 2804WBRP-G with an Epson CX3200 worked without any difficulty, albeit with the expected side effect of rendering the printers status software largely inert -- something that's unavoidable when using bi-directional printers on a network.

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