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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Features

Since the base radio technology used by the 824 is Atheros Super-G plus XR, the wireless settings will look familiar to anyone who has used any other NETGEAR product based on that technology. Figure 9 shows the basic wireless settings in the default state (except for the Region, which I set as shown, and enabling WEP, which I did to expose the settings for the screenshot).

NETGEAR WPN824 - Wireless settings screen

Figure 9: Wireless settings

Figure 10 shows the Advanced Wireless controls, which show typical NETGEAR Super-G controls (under 108Mbps Settings) but no sign of anything you can use to control Video54's BeamFlex antenna technology.

NETGEAR WPN824 - Advanced Wireless settings

Figure 10: Advanced Wireless screen

The Setup Access List button provides access to the 824's MAC Address association control (Wireless Card Access List), which operates only in Grant mode (only clients listed will be allowed access). I was pleased to see, however, that a pick list of currently-associated clients was available to ease the creation of the list (Figure 11). Unfortunately, there is no file-based ability to create or save the Access list.

NETGEAR WPN824 - Adding a client to the Wireless Access list

Figure 11: Adding a client to the Wireless Access list

WEP and WPA-PSK support is provided to round out wireless security. Figure 9 above shows that WEP key entry can be done directly in hexadecimal, or with an alphanumeric passphrase that is used to generate the hex keys. Clicking the WPA-PSK radio button changes the screen so that a single 8 to 63 character passphrase can be entered.

WPA-PSK is the strongest security option currently offered and I was disappointed to see that you'll need to wait for future firmware releases if you need support for 802.1x authentication, WPA "Enterprise" or preferably WPA2 support.

The 824's wireless monitoring features are a little better than provided by most consumer wireless gear - which, unfortunately, isn't saying much. The Attached Devices screen will show the IP and MAC address and host name of active clients that have received DHCP leases, but doesn't differentiate between wired and wireless. And clicking the Show Statistics button on the Router Status page opens a small window that automatically refreshes periodically (you can set the rate) showing WAN, LAN and WLAN packet statistics.

Missing features include no ability to set transmit power level, force the transmit rate, or set the advertised base rate. And, finally, as with other current MIMO products, the 824 does not support wireless bridging or repeating.

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