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Wireless Reviews

Feature Tour

Let's take a walk through each of the main menus.

Internet

If the home page shows that your internet status is "GOOD", you don't even need to go to this page. However, if your ISP provides you with a static address, or you need a login for a PPPoE connection, you'll need to visit here.

Wireless

This menu allows you to change any of your wireless settings for either the 2.4 GHz or the 5 GHz bands. You can change the network name, passphrase, enable/disable SSID broadcast, select the operating channel, change security options or change operating mode.

By default, the 2.4 GHz network is set up in single channel mode (20 Mhz or "up to 130 Mbps") and on 5GHz network, the default is bonded channel mode. (40Mhz or "up to 300 Mbps"). For each band, you can also enable Wireless Separation which keeps wireless clients from "seeing" each other through the router.

One of the new features on the WNDR3800 is Clear Channel Selector. With Clear Channel Selector, the router periodically looks for the best possible operating channel with minimal interference (such as microwave ovens, cordless phones and other wireless APs) and traffic. Other routers also claim to have a clear channel or "auto set" feature. But they usually scan for other networks only when booting.

Clear Channel Selector appears to work. I live in an area that has numerous surrounding wireless networks, and the WNDR3800 made a pretty good choice by choosing Channel 1. And, over the course of 4 days, it changed channels in response to changing conditions. Figure 3 shows the wireless configuration settings.

Wireless configuration

Figure 3: Wireless configuration

In addition, on the 5 GHz band, the WNDR3800 has a dedicated video mode that's designed to reduce jitter and packet loss. NETGEAR recommends that you enable the video network for one of the two available 5 GHz networks, and connect to that network with your smart TV or media adapter. I didn't test this feature.

Attached Devices

This menu displays each of the wired and wireless devices connected to your network. For each device, the IP Address, the MAC address and the device name is shown.

Parental Controls

Working in partnership with OpenDNS, the NETGEAR WNDR3800 includes free Live Parental Controls. There is a lot to investigate here, so I'll come back to it shortly.

ReadyShare

This is NETGEAR's storage and printer sharing feature. It also deserves a longer look, so we'll come back.

Guest Network

This final option on the Basic tab allows you to set up individual guest networks on each band. Figure 4 shows the options for each wireless network. When computers connect to the Guest network, they receive an IP address on the same subnet as your LAN. However, you have the option of restricting access to your local network as well as isolating wireless guests from each other.

Guest Network settings for both bands

Figure 4: Guest Network settings for both bands

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