Thu, 08 Sep 05

Netgear WPN824 disappointment

I’ve installed a handful of wireless networks over the years and have always gone for Netgear products due to price and my perceived quality of the items.

I recently had another wireless network to install which was to span a house and an office at the end of the garden. Having looked at the latest Netgear offerings I decided upon the WPN824. This was mainly due to the boasts of “Network range extended by up to 400 feet”. Although the item was slightly more expensive (£73.91 ex Vat at time of writing1) than the alternatives, I was figuring on not having to buy additional antennae for the individual computers and therefore saving that way. The first problem I had was that I had mis-interpreted the device as an ADSL router rather than a Broadband router. Because of this oversight I had to purchase an additional ADSL Ethernet Modem (Netgear DG632) for £36.45 ex Vat at the time of writing. This was already going over budget.

On installation I was greeted with very dissapointing results. I was using Netgear WPN311 cards in each desktop and the wireless router was placed equidistant from each machine (albeit one had to travel through a couple of walls and the other through open air and wooden divides).

I tried all of the channels, with and without encryption and selecting the network types (b, g, b & g, 108MB only), all to no avail. I was getting a signal but not one that was strong and consistent enough to work with.

The money I thought I was saving by buying the more expensive router was about to disapear with the addition of a 5db omni-direction antennae for each of the desktop machines.

With the antennae added, wireless performance was ok, although only really when running at a max of 54Mbs (i.e. I was still not able to take advantage of the 108Mbs speeds).

I still wasn’t amazingly happy with this performance and so obtained a Netgear DG834G ADSL/Wireless router combo. This was installed in place of the WPN824/DG632 pair and to my slight surprise both faster network speeds and better consistency prevailed.

I’m currently in the process of sending the WPN824/DG632 units back to eBuyer on the basis that they (well, the WPN824 at least) do not live up to their promises.

As indicated at the top of the article, I’m generally pleased with Netgear products but have been let down by the exagerated promises of this particular device.

Mini-disclaimer: This is based only on my experience with the product. Your experience may vary.

1 All prices are from www.ebuyer.com