Choosing a new router can be a jargon-filled headache, and it’s made more difficult by the fact that it’s not always made clear whether a model is suitable for cable broadband or standard ADSL, typically over a BT line.
Although some ADSL routers can be connected to a cable modem, it is not usually an easy process to configure them. Netgear‘s N600 DGND3700 is one of the few we’ve seen that claims to be able to automatically detect and configure any type of broadband connection.
Confusingly, it is one of four Netgear N600 models with the same name but different model numbers (our review model is the DGND3700) so take extra care when buying.
This new version supports the latest high-speed ADSL2+ broadband connections, which go up to 24mbits/sec.
It has to stand vertically, which exposes the router’s base along with its rubber feet and assorted serial number stickers, making it look very ugly; the stand can’t be removed.
At the rear is a physical power switch, along with four Gigabit network ports, a dedicated port for use with a cable modem, plus an ADSL phone connection.
There is also a USB socket. At the front the status panel is dark blue and, although the green and blue lights were bright enough, the icons were very difficult to see.
The panel also houses a second USB port and buttons for WPS (one-touch wireless device connection) and for turning off the wireless network altogether.
Unusually, there is no setup CD – setup is started by opening www.routerlogin.net, entering the default user name and password, and starting the setup wizard.
This was very easy and worked well – it determined our cable connection straight away. It only configures the internet access, though, so for wireless settings and other features you need to use the setup menu.
This was rather daunting and overly technical in places, particularly the wireless settings.
It supports two separate 802.11n wireless networks, using the standard 2.4GHz radio frequency band and the less-crowded 5GHz band.
Each can be used as a ‘guest’ network to allow friends or family to use the internet while protecting your own PCs, but how to enable this wasn’t immediately obvious.
Help text is shown in a panel at the side of the menus, but this also lapses into jargon a lot. Many other features, such as website blocking, are spoiled by this over-technical approach.
The N600 does have some useful features, such as Ready Share, which allows file sharing and media streaming from any connected USB storage device.
Again, setting this up could have been easier, but once done it worked very well. Another handy feature is the traffic meter that can help make sure you don’t exceed your ISP’s download limits.
But although these features are welcome, the rather technical interface means that few users are likely to get the most out of the N600.