Setup and Administration
NETGEAR tries to make it easy to set up the 824 by having it act as a captive portal - a trick familiar to anyone who has used a pay-for Internet service. In its fresh-from-the-factory default state, the 824 sends any user starting up a web browser to the start of its built-in configuration "smardWizard". Note that this trick doesn't work from a wireless client, since the 824's radio is shut off by default - which I give NETGEAR extra points for.
If you don't want the wizard's help, though, you might get a bit frustrated trying to bypass it. Trying to go anywhere else, even to its default address of 192.168.1.1 will keep sending you back to http://www.routerlogin.com/welcome.htm. I managed to escape from the endless loop I was trapped in by unplugging the WAN port connection, but later discovered the key in the PDF Setup Guide on the CD (point your browser to http://www.routerlogin.net/basicsetting.htm and you'll be freed).
Once I finally got to the Basic Settings page, I found all the usual suspects for WAN connection types are supported, along with BigPond cable and PPTP. A pleasant surprise was that static IPs are supported for PPTP and PPPoE (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Basic Settings screen
(click on image to enlarge)
During bootup the 824 automatically checks a NTP server for the correct time once it gets connected to the Internet. The only thing you have to do is set your Time Zone and whether your location observes Daylight Savings time, once you find them hidden on the E-mail page.
The overall interface responsiveness was good with screens coming up quickly, but some changes require a 30 second or so reboot cycle.
Remote Management can be enabled (it's off by default), and you can set the port used and restrict access to a single IP address or range of addresses if you like, but not a remote machine's MAC address. Secure connection (HTTPS) to the admin server isn't supported for either local or remote admin.
The 824 does not allow multiple administrator logins at a time and tells the second would-be administrator the IP address and computer name of the current admin. NETGEAR has provided an admin log-out function but I couldn't find a control to change the time for auto-logout of an inactive admin session from its default of 5 minutes.
A nice feature would be that the router can check for new firmware on demand or when you log into the admin interface. But I say "would be" because the "check on log-in" feature failed to alert me to new firmware that I found when I manually checked. And the download and install feature also failed when I tried it.