The N600 series from Netgear, particularly the WNDR3800 is regarded as one of the best and most feature-rich routers in the market and it is right up there along with other popular routers, like Asus’ RT-N16. The WNDR3800 has been with us for a while now and it’s about time we had a crack at it, so here it goes. There are a total of four different variants of the N600 and the WNDR3800 is their flagship ‘Premium Edition’ router. Netgear have given it a different colour scheme as well to help it stand out from the rest of the pack. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll call it the N600 for the rest of the review.
Design and Build
The router is packaged well in a cardboard box and comes with the necessary manuals, driver disk, power adapter, Cat 5e Ethernet cable and a stand for the router. The router is not what you’d call small but thankfully, you can place it either lying down or vertically. It looks good, but the glossy bit on the main body will attract a lot of fingerprints and dust, so be prepared. The N600 does not have any external antennae as they are all built in. The quality of the plastics used is good and there’s isn’t too much creaking or flexing when pressed. There are four rubber feet underneath for grip and the router can be wall mounted as well.
All lit up!
Coming to the pots, we have a physical power button, power socket, four Gigabit LAN jacks, modem port, USB 2.0 port. All the ports are a bit recessed into the plastic mould, which is not a problem for any of the cables, but you may have slight issues plugging in a USB drive, especially if it’s not a standard shape. The reset switch, along with the labels for all the ports and other information like the deault password for the Wi-Fi are placed underneath. This makes it very easy to setup even for a novice and you won’t have to go looking through the manual.
The various ports
Thankfully, unlike Belkin, Netgear are very generous with the use of LED status lights and there’s one for just about everything. You have your power light, a green one for the 2.4GHz band and a blue one for the 5GHz band. There’s one for USB, Internet, four LAN jacks and WPS. Netgear have also provided two physical buttons in the front, one to toggle the Wi-Fi radios and the other for WPS. The LAN status LEDs glow amber if the connection is 10/100, else they glow green if it’s a Gigabit connection, which we felt is a very nice touch and not seen often on routers. Overall, we were quite impressed with the design and build of the Netgear and we especially loved the use of different LED status lights.
First, let’s go over some of the premium features that that WNDR3800 exclusively offers. The first is a ‘Clear Channel Selector’, which automatically searches for a clear channel and switches to it. ReadySHARE Cloud lets you access your USB storage drive connected to the router, from anywhere in the world. You can also access your files through a smartphone, but these apps aren’t free, unfortunately. You can also connect USB printer for some wireless printing.
ReadySHARE works well and is easy to setup
The N600 WNDR3800 packs in a 680MHz MIPS processor with 16 MB of flash memory and 64 MB of RAM, so it’s definitely a powerful router. This particular version doesn’t have third-party firmware, like DD-WRT support, yet, but it should very soon. As you probably know by now, it’s a dual-band router with 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands running simultaneously. DLNA support is also present and the WNDR3800 also lets you extend our TiVo storage and is compatible with Apple’s Time Machine. Finally, we also have Guest Network access and Live Parental controls. The N600 is a very feature-packed router and has most of what the feature ones would typically use. Now, if they had only added a torrent downloader, that would have made my day.
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