Netgear's FWG114P wireless firewall print server delivers solid performance and the right array of features. Its integrated access point, firewall, and print server are all easy to set up on any platform using a standard Web browser, making the Netgear wireless firewall a good choice regardless of whether you're networking Linux, Apple, or Windows machines. The only real downside to this product is its lack of WPA (for wireless security) and WDS (for wireless scalability), both of which are part of the Buffalo AirStation's feature set. Still, the Netgear wireless firewall makes up for these shortcomings with superb Internet security, extensive logging, Dynamic DNS support, and automatic failover to a dial-up connection. We think it's worth the expensive price tag for SOHO and advanced home users who need more than the typical home router.
The FWG114P wireless firewall print server sports the classic Netgear look with a dark-blue, metal housing and several well-positioned LEDs on the front. The wireless firewall's back panel contains an Ethernet WAN port, a USB 2.0 port, a serial port for a modem, and a four-port Ethernet switch. The switch is equipped with Auto Uplink technology, which eliminates the need for crossover cables when connecting to other switches or routers.
In addition to the wireless firewall itself, the box contains a power adapter, an Ethernet cable, a printed installation guide, and a resource CD with one of the best manuals we've seen. The electronic manual has a series of appendices on networking that describe topics such as subnet masks and network address translation in clear, concise language.
Thanks to its well-designed, Web-based Smart Wizard, the Netgear FWG114P wireless firewall print server is easy to set up, too. The wizard is compatible with any standard Web browser, so you can access it from Windows, Macintosh, and Linux computers. The check boxes in the wizard's interface track that tasks that you've completed, and interactive diagrams show you how to connect the cables. It doesn't update your Windows network settings like the Windows-only setup wizard for the Microsoft MN-700 does, but the Netgear Smart Wizard does provide detailed information on how to make those changes.
Netgear's Web-based configuration utility offers access to a number of advanced-settings options. Plus, if an incorrect setting brings down your network, the wireless firewall's handy configuration save/restore feature rolls it back to the old settings.The Netgear FWG114P wireless firewall print server offers a strong set of security, filtering, and logging options. The wireless firewall uses SPI (stateful packet inspection) and filtering rules to forward or block specified traffic. Other security features, such as the blocking of keywords, Java, and ActiveX, work together with NAT and the filtering rules to secure your network from outside hackers. Unfortunately, the Netgear wireless firewall supports only 64/128-bit WEP security, but Netgear promises to deliver WPA security support with a firmware update in the coming weeks. We would also like to see a WDS mode that would allow the firewall to wirelessly communicate with other 802.11g access points, such as that of Buffalo's AirStation router and repeater.
Netgear's wireless firewall has the right feature set for a modern home office. It comes with ISDN/modem auto failover to keep you connected via a phone line if your broadband line goes down, Dynamic DNS so that Internet users can find your services even if you receive a dynamic IP address from your ISP, a DMZ that allows you to place a computer or server outside your firewall, and a 100Mbps WAN port to support faster broadband connections in the future. The wireless firewall's USB print server feature lets you connect a supported USB printer and share it among your networked computers. While the print server feature works with only specific printers, the list is long and includes models from Canon, Compaq, Epson, HP, and Lexmark. The wireless firewall also supports universal plug and play and has a remote-access feature that lets you configure and reset the device via a connection over the Internet.
The Netgear FWG114P wireless firewall print server places in the top three in all of our throughput tests to date. Second only to the U.S. Robotics 8054 in our 802.11g throughput testing, the wireless firewall reached a maximum throughput of 25Mbps. In mixed-mode testing with 802.11b transmissions, the wireless firewall topped out at 12.5Mbps, placing it higher than most other products we've tested but significantly lower than both the U.S. Robotics 8054 and the Dell Wireless 2300.
CNET Labs maximum throughput tests (Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Note: Throughput in Mbps.|
CNET Labs throughput tests with mixed b/g clients (Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Note: Throughput in Mbps.|
In our range tests, the wireless firewall takes its place at the head of the pack. It had the best performance-over-distance curve we've seen so far and outperformed all three of our top range contenders: the Microsoft MN-700, the U.S. Robotics 8054, and the Dell Wireless 2300.
The wireless firewall also handles a sizable network, with support for up to 64 wireless clients and 253 NAT clients. This number is nearly four times the maximum clients support by the Dell Wireless 2300, which can handle only up to 16 wireless clients and 64 NAT clients.
CNET Labs tested the FWG114P using Version 1.0 Release 16 firmware. For more information on how we test, go to the CNET Labs site.
Netgear offers a solid three-year warranty along with 24/7 toll-free phone support for the FWG114P wireless firewall print server. The product-support Web site includes contact information for e-mailing or calling technical support, firmware updates, and useful online documentation, along with an online interactive learning tool called Mentor provided free for Netgear customers. The support page for the Netgear wireless firewall contains several worthwhile FAQs covering the device's various security features, including overviews and troubleshooting advice as well as detailed configuration tips. We recommend visiting the support site to download the updated firmware with WPA security support due out within the next few weeks.