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Oh what luxury it is to be able to sit in the garden on a breezy summers day, and write another review on dooyoo. OK, perhaps it's no longer a luxury, as every tom, dick and harry seems to have a laptop and a wireless internet connection these days. Gone are the days of being tied to a big lumpy metal box and a dark corner of the room with a cable connected to the wall. Now in this futuristic world, the internet can come through thin air....marvellous.
The router, still a reasonably new addition to many households is really one of those gadgets that does in fact improve your lifestyle to a certain extent. Can you really say that about your smoothie maker? If like us you have multiple computers but only one internet connection, this device will allow you to connect them all and share the internet as you like. You can also sit (or stand or lie) where you like.
We've had our trusty NetGear WGR614 (version 7 to be precise) for a couple of years now, and we give it very little attention. It just sits there, with it's green lights flashing on and off. Poor thing. It deserves much more affection though as without it I wouldn't be able to sit here enjoying the sunshine while writing this review. OK, I would but then I'd have to drag a long cable out with me. Oh, it was cheap, about £30 I think. To be honest, it was the first one I came to in the shop, after all they can't be all that different can they?
The box is grey, with the aforementioned lights on the front which blink if it is working, and theres numbers 1-4 on it indicating how many connections you have. On the reverse is the power socket (interesting), a socket to plug your internet connection into, and 4 sockets which you can use to connect computers to if you'd rather have wired connections. There's a little antenna on the back which throws the signal through the airwaves, and it doesn't seem to matter where I am in the house or garden, the signal travels. There's obviously some limit, but unless you are living in a mansion or your walls are three feet thick, I'm sure this will be fine.
Initially the thing was a little troublesome to set-up, it can be beyond the technical ability of the average person, but we got there in the end. You need to have a wired connection for the installation, but after that you can go entirely wireless. You set-up your password so that only you can use the connection.
54Mbps. What does that mean? Well it's the speed. Beats me if I need one any faster than this, everything seems to work as it should. Sometimes we have up to 3 laptops connected and we don't notice any major problems. We have a 24Mbps broadband connection, so I guess this helps.
Reliability. It's a workhorse. It's on all the time, except if we go away. It gives us the internet when we want it, so no complaints there. It's quiet as a mouse, and keeps cool. We don't notice it. We should dust it more often maybe.
To use the wireless feature rather than the cabled connection you'll need a laptop (or a PC) with a 802.11g wireless card. That's all laptops these days. If your's doesn't have one you'll need a dongle to give it that functionality.
So it's a few years old now. Do I desire a newer, flashier, more expensive, go faster stripes one? Nope, if it breaks, catches fire, we pour water over it or it explodes - then it will be replaced, but for now it sits there and does what it is supposed to do, and we don't have to feed or water it.
For a long time, my family have had one computer connected to the internet, via a cable modem. However, last year, I purchased a computer in preparation for university. Now, after completing a year, I returned home and soon found the lack of internet access on my new computer a little annoying. It was for this reason that I purchased a router.
I did a large amount of research in preparation for buying a router, as there are two basic types of router: cable and modem. Most internet providers, such as AOL and BT, use a modem connection and for this reason need a modem router. Virgin Media, however, uses cable, and this is the service my family currently uses. Whilst looking for my router, I had three main criteria in mind:
I wanted quite a cheap router as I only required it for basic tasks such as surfing the internet and checking my emails. For this reason I was not prepared to pay a large amount for the router.
Whilst I wanted a cheap router, I expected a certain amount of quality of speed of internet from it. Whilst 54mps is I believe the slowest speed you can get nowadays, I had heard from a friend that it was perfectly sufficient for the everyday tasks mentioned above.
3) Ease of setup
Whilst I know a little about computers, I did not want the hassle of having to go through complicated procedures just to get my computer onto the internet.
My purchase was the "starter kit" Netgear WGR614 Cable/DSL 54 Mbps Wireless Router, from Argos. I paid £56.99 for it as of early August 2008. Note that I did not buy the router on its own; Argos offered in this starter kit a USB adapter or "dongle" as I shall refer to it from now on. This is essential for setting up a wireless network, as it allows the router to send information from your modem to the computer you are trying to get internet on. Most modern laptops have a wireless network card built in, and so do not need one of these. Desktops however will usually need a dongle.
Argos listed the specifications as follows:
* Starter kit including a wireless 54Mbps cable router and USB adapter.
* Speed 54Mbps.
* Range 100m (speed and range indication will vary due to environmental and other factors).
* Built-in firewall.
* WEP and WPA security built-in.
* 1 external antenna.
* Compatible with 802.11b/g wireless standards.
* 4 Ethernet ports.
* Includes SmartWizard installation software.
* Compatible with: Windows 98/ME/NT2000/XP, Mac OS, NetWare, UNIX or Linux, Internet Explorer 5.0 or Netscape 4.7 or higher.
* Size (H)2.8, (W)17.5, (D)11.9cm.
* Weight 0.3kg.
* Supplied with a WG111GE USB adaptor.
On a personal note, I can confirm it is also compatible with Windows Vista, as this is the operating system I use. I took the product home and set it up that evening. The product advertises itself as being very quick to set up and that the smart wizard installation software could do it for you.
However, a lot of the instructions onscreen were too technical for me and I would not have been able to setup my router if it weren't for my more technically minded brother who knew what to do and helped me sort the problems out. This I think suggests the product might not be suitable for those who have no clue about computers.
However once I had set up the internet, I found the router to be worth every penny I had paid for it. My internet access was nice and fast, and there have so far been no problems or mishaps related to the router. It has built in security, where you can choose a number and password specific to your router. This means that nobody else can access your internet with a wireless adapter, thus protecting privacy.
Buy this product if you...
* are looking for a cheap, reliable router for basic internet use
Don't buy this product if you...
* have a very large house - as a cheap router, the signal might not be able to travel all the way to the furthermost rooms and through very thick walls
* want to use it for online gaming - I tested this on Wolfenstein Enemy Territory, the online game, and found the connection was laggy. I would advise buy a more powerful router for online gaming.
Despite the difficulties I had in setting up the wireless network, I found the product to be reliable once I had got it going. I do recommend this product to anybody who is looking for an affordable and reliable wireless router - although I do advise ask somebody who knows a little about computers to help you do so, as I have done!