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Netgear WNR834B (SH) review

A good-looking router

Our Verdict

Netgear works well in an open plan office, but it is less than ideal for using in the home


  • Looks great


  • Signal can be obstructed

Neatgear was one of the first manufacturers with a Pre-N wireless router offering and, with its RangeMax Next products, Netgear offers you a choice of speeds for wired Ethernet ports.

The WNR834B cable router and WN511B PC Card run at 10/100 (and cost £142 for the pair), while the WNR854T router has Gigabit Ethernet and costs £114 (inc. VAT). Unfortunately, it uses different silicon to the WNR834B, so you need a compatible PC Card which is the WN511T and costs £68.

The thinking is that draft-N wireless is actually faster than 10/100 Ethernet, so you need Gigabit to prevent a bottleneck in your network.

The router looks incredibly swish and could very easily be an Apple product. It has a shiny white finish and, as the antennae are internal, the unit can stand up vertically, allowing it to be hidden away.

When you install the PC Card, the Netgear Smart Wizard offers to check for an update from the internet before it installs software and, in another user-friendly touch, you configure the router by going to rather than an obscure IP address. Humorously, this use of a proper web address means that your browser will block a Netgear advert that attempts to pop-up in the configuration screen.

The configuration screen is keen to check online for firmware updates or you can do it manually, but the screen doesn't make it clear what the current firmware version is; this is displayed elsewhere under 'Router Status'.

Although the RangeMax Next hardware is fast when it has a clear line of sight, the speed drops off when there is any form of obstruction. We suspect the internal antennae are to blame for this problem. So, while the Netgear works well in an open plan office, it is less than ideal for using in the home environment for which it was intended.