Networking as home decor
As the number of broadband subscribers increases, so does the need for affordable, easy-to-use, and aesthetically pleasing home-networking products. The $107 RP614 achieves all three by offering a thin and lightweight design with sleek, silver-and-gray styling. Underneath its shiny exterior, however, the device looks and acts like your standard router. On the back of the Netgear, you'll find an Internet port to connect your DSL/cable modem and four Ethernet ports for computer hookups. Netgear also includes one Cat-5 Ethernet cable in the box along with a hard, rubberized stand, which lets you position the RP614 vertically to save desk space.
Netgear has done its homework
Netgear has gone to great lengths to make the RP614 user-friendly; in fact, the sheer volume of help can seem overwhelming. Smartly, Netgear presents this information in a well-planned and efficient manner that will appeal to a broad range of users. The meticulous, by-the-book user will find an easy-to-read, 13-page, printed installation guide. An interactive Installation Assistant, found on the included Resource CD, will greet those who skip the guide and head straight for the hardware. If you need more in-depth information, the electronic reference manual has a basic troubleshooting section, a brief overview of networking concepts, and a glossary.
Because configuring the router can be one of the most difficult tasks for a lot of first-time home-network users, Netgear simplifies the process considerably. The Resource CD contains a direct link to the Web Configuration Manager, which appears as a split screen. On the right-hand side of the screen, you'll find a brief definition and explanation of each of the settings on every page. This unique feature sets Netgear apart from its competitors and spares you from flipping through the manual every five seconds. At the top of the page, you'll also find a Smart Setup Wizard that can save you headaches by detecting your ISP type automatically.
Do you know where your kids are?
As its name implies, the RP614 keeps kids safe by letting parents filter or limit access to the Internet. The Content Filtering section of the configuration manager puts several tools at your disposal. For instance, you can block certain URL keywords or domain names (such as those associated with sex and porn sites) or limit access to the Web by days of the week and/or times of day. The RP614 also keeps a log of Web sites visited, and you can have alerts sent to you via e-mail if your child attempts to access a restricted site.
The RP614 also offers good performance and security. In CNET Labs' tests, the Netgear delivered throughput scores of 88.4Mbps, which is comparable to Wi-Fi routers from SMC and HP. For security, the RP614 uses NAT, and you can also set up one PC as a DMZ. Plus, the RP614 includes support for dynamic DNS and port forwarding. As an added bonus, you can download a free, one-year subscription of Zero-Knowledge Systems Freedom Security and Privacy Suite. After that, it will cost you $69.95 per year.