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Wireless Reviews

Introduction

 

NETGEAR WNHDB3004 3DHD Wireless Home Theater Networking Kit

At a Glance
Product NETGEAR 3DHD Wireless Home Theater Networking Kit (WNHDB3004)
Summary 4X4 MIMO 5 GHz AP / bridge kit optimized for HD video streaming but also compatible with standard 5 GHz N clients.
Pros • Auto, AP and Bridge switch
• WPS support
• Very stable throughput with low variation
• Supports standard 802.11a and 5 GHz N clients
Cons • Expensive
• Unstable for standard AP use
• Some users could have setup problems after resetting to factory default

My first look a few weeks ago at NETGEAR's whizzy new HD wireless bridge kit showed it provided exceptionally stable throughput when both were tested in the same room. Figure 1 from the preview shows nary a dropout over a one hour test.

WNHD3004 Transmit and Receive - same room - 1 hour

Figure 1: WNHD3004 Transmit and Receive - same room - 1 hour

This time I'm going to report on how the pair performed when tested in my six test locations. But first, let's look at the configuration features that NETGEAR has baked into the product.

Actually, before I do that, I need to give you a heads-up that may save you a few hours of frustration. When I first powered up the two adapters in the WNHDB3004 kit that NETGEAR sent, they linked right up without my having to do a thing. But when I plugged them in to start the retest a few days ago, they would not link up.

No problem, I thought, and reset them to factory default. But that seemed to make matters worse, so I reached out to NETGEAR. It turns out that NETGEAR ships the two adapters in the WNHDB3004 kit pre-paired and secured with WPA2/AES security, so that you won't have to get into the configuration settings. So when I reset them to factory default, those settings naturally went away.

I was only able to get the two adapters talking again by running a WPS push-button session using the buttons on the front of each adapter. Even after that, however, the adapters wouldn't hold the pairing through power cycling and throughput was all over the place. So I asked NETGEAR for a new pair to do the range testing, which they sent. I don't know why the first pair stopped working.

Configuration

The WNHD3004 has web-based configuration, which with factory defaults, you should be able to reach by hitting www.mywifiext.com or www.mywifiext.net with a browser on a machine directly connected to an adapter via Ethernet. You'll get slightly different screens, depending on whether the adapter is in AP or Bridge mode.

You can browse the image gallery below for a short tour of the key screens. Or get the whole story by downloading the User Manual. But I want to first point you to a setting you might want to change. Figure 2 shows the Network Settings page available in both AP and Bridge modes.

DNS resolution setting

Figure 2: DNS resolution setting

The note on the screenshot is pretty self-explanatory, except for two points. First, you should uncheck the box on both the AP and Bridge members of a linked pair to get the maximim effect. And second, the throughput boost is only with strong to medium signals. Once you get to lower signal levels, the throughput advantage fades.

Since factory default checks this box, that's the way I tested. But I did run in-room tests with the DNS resolution disabled and you'll see the results shortly.

Image gallery

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