I hate DSL routers. I don’t know why, but router manufacturers seem incapable of designing one that works properly. They’re usually let down by their software, and sometimes they’re also let down by their hardware too.
The most recent routers I’ve used are:
Alcatel SpeedTouch 780WL (Be branded)This one seems to be generally OK, although the web interface is pretty awful. I think the problem there is that Alcatel can’t make up its mind whether it wants the router to be easy-to-configure or full of features, so the web interface is an uneasy half-way house. The worst problem with it is that it’s badly organised and hard to navigate; there are pages that look just like the settings screens, but where you can’t change anything, and it often takes me a couple of minutes to find the right part of the interface. It seems to be fairly decent from the command line, though the docs for that are somewhat lacking. WLAN works OK on this router, which is a refreshing change.
ZyXEL Prestige 662HWThe main problems with this router aren’t to do with the software, which is OK (not brilliant, but OK). It has a good range of features and a reasonable web interface, which is at least easy to navigate, unlike the Alcatel. No, the main problems are hardware ones. Firstly, this router’s input seems to be too heavily attenuated, as a result of which it has trouble sustaining a DSL connection at high data rates. I’m quite close to the local exchange, so there’s no good excuse for this, especially as other vendors’ products don’t suffer from this problem. Second, the WLAN is unreliable. When I bought this, I was hoping that I could replace an earlier ZyXEL Prestige (a 243, I think) and my Apple AirPort with just the one box. No such luck.
Netgear DG834NI bought this to replace the ZyXEL when it became apparent that I was going to have regular connectivity problems with the latter. It was easy to set up, with a simple web interface and the DSL connection has been very reliable with this unit. Unfortunately there are some serious deficiencies with the DG634N, which Netgear doesn’t seem to be in a great hurry to address:
- It has a very small feature set compared to other manufacturers’ routers. On the plus side, that makes it easy to configure for end users.
- It only supports 802.11n draft 1. Draft 2 has been “forthcoming” for some time now.
- Its UPnP support is badly broken.1 As a result, it is impossible to use software that requires special support for NAT, unless the authors have taken account of the device’s eccentricities.
- There is no command line.2