It's a sign of the times that 802.11n has taken so long to limp towards ratification that there is a fair amount of Draft-n hardware on sale that is getting rather long in the tooth. That's not to say that the Netgear RangeMax Next DG834N looks old, as the Apple-esque styling seems bang up to the minute.
The pearl white colour looks attractive and the six antennae are neatly concealed inside the tall casing where they are out of sight. Netgear specifies that the DG834N has to stand vertically, which is presumably to ensure that the casing gets a decent supply of fresh air to keep it cool.
Unfortunately, when you look beyond the cosmetics, the signs of ageing aren't far away. The obvious clues are the four Ethernet ports that are 10/100 instead of Gigabit. We were staggered to see the firmware is v1.01.06, which is current, but dates back to October 2006.
The configuration details are printed on the back of the router in really small letters on a grey background that makes them very tricky to read, so old Netgear hands will be pleased to hear that you can still configure the router by typing in the following URL: http://www.routerlogin.net.
Once you've got the configuration screen open, you'll find it is clear and well laid out, so configuring your router is quick and easy. Externally there's an annoyance as the power adapter is so big it won't fit easily on a four-gang adapter.
When it came to the matching adapter, we could have used the WN511B PC Card, but opted for the WN121T USB adapter, which may have been a mistake. It's a large flat device that measures 100 x 100 x 10mm. It connects using a USB cable and is supposed to stand vertically on a small pop-out base, but it kept falling over.
We have no idea how this inelegant solution is supposed to work in an airport lounge or on the train, but perhaps it will be fixed by the time 802.11n is completed.