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Wireless Reviews

Feature Tour

The menu structure is flat – none of the menu items have sub menus.  The help link at the top of the each page takes you to a glossary.  However, some pages have More Info links that take you to context sensitive browser-based help.  Many of the menu items are standard on most routers, so I’ll discuss the ones that deserve special mention.

Wireless Settings
Figure 8 shows that the 2.4 and the 5 GHz bands can be configured individually.  You can individually disable the radios via the Wireless Mode selector.

Channel and SSID settings
Click to enlarge image

Figure 8: Channel and SSID settings

In addition 64/128 bit WEP, WPA and WPA2 wireless security modes are supported for each band, with default security and authentication set to WPA/WPA2.  Enterprise mode (RADIUS) authentication is not supported. 

Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) is supported for standard PIN code, WPS pushbutton and manual configuration. But you must select the band that WPS uses, i.e. the router won't run WPS on both bands simultaneously.    Optionally, you can disable WPS entirely or just the WPS button on the router.

The Play Max supports a wireless guest network on the 2.4 GHz band only.  This guest network operates on a different subnet (192.168.1.0/24) than the regular wired / WLAN network and you can't change this subnet.  The guest network doesn’t have access to the router admin page or to shared resources such as storage or printers attached to the router. 

Figure 9 shows the various types of security you can enable including the traditional WEP, WPA / WPA2 or the so-called “café style” that intercepts your first web request and prompts you for a password. 

Wireless Guest Network configuration
Click to enlarge image

Figure 9:  Wireless Guest Network configuration

I had some difficulty with the café style of authentication – my first web requests after connecting to the guest network often timed out and didn’t prompt me for a password.  However, when I configured the guest network to use WPA / WPA2, I had no problems using the guest network to surf the web.  Bottom line, if you are going to provide password protected guest access, you might as well enable WPA / WPA2 and provide your guest with the pre-shared key.  The PSK for the guest network can be different than the one for your regular WLAN.

Under Wireless settings, you can also choose to use the Play Max as an access point rather than a router.  Note that when you use this mode, you don't have to change any connections or other settings, as you do when you manually convert a router to an AP.

Play Features
Under this menu, you have the option of configuring QoS settings, enabling the DLNA server, viewing traffic statistics, or viewing queued Torrent downloads.  For QoS, you can create two different user profiles, or use the default profile that gives highest priority to voice applications, high priority for games, medium priority for video and normal priority for everything else.  Note that the QoS settings apply to local and uplink to Internet traffic only. So they don't do anything to control download bandwidth hogging.

The instruction manual provides little information about the Torrent Genie, which runs as a daemon on the router for unattended BitTorrent downloads. Setup, however, is via an app (Vuze) that runs on a computer.

Firewall
This menu has a firewall enable / disable.  You can also set up port forwarding under the Virtual Server menu.  You can create up to 20 virtual servers, and choose from a pre-populated list of 141 games/services.  In addition, you can set up access control based on MAC addresses filtering, configure an IP address for the DMZ, and enable dynamic DNS (DDNS).  Only one DDNS provider, DynDNS is supported.

Utilities
In this menu are utilities such as reboot router, restore to factory defaults, update firmware, save current configuration, etc.  Under system settings, you can set the time zone / NTP server, enable automatic firmware update checks, enable/disable remote console access, set the admin password and enable/disable UPnP. 

The Play Max has an ECO mode (Figure 10) that lets you dim the router LED and/or disable both radios on a schedule.

Eco Mode

Figure 10:  Eco Mode

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