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Dual-band Wi-Fi router can flip to a better channel

Aug 30, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

NetGear announced the availability of a dual-channel 802.11n router claimed to be the first home Wi-Fi router that can automatically switch to another channel when the first gets overcrowded. The N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router Premium Edition (WNDR3800) runs Linux on a 680MHz MIPS CPU, offers five gigabit Ethernet ports, plus a USB port that supports private cloud file sharing says the company.

Like NetGear's previous Wi-Fi routers such as its RangeMax Wireless-N Gigabit Router with USB (WNR3500L), the new N600 runs on embedded Linux, confirms a NetGear spokesperson. The same goes for most other NetGear devices, including the company's MBRN3300E 3G Mobile Broadband Router.

As the name suggests, the N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router — Premium Edition (pictured at right) is a dual-band router that simultaneously operates on 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. The router supports download speeds of up to 300Mbps, says NetGear. Earlier models, including the company's N300 and N150, are said to lack this feature.

Building on this dual-band architecture, the N600 provides a "Clear Channel Selector" feature said to be previously available only on costly, business-class wireless routers. The feature automatically detects when a Wi-Fi channel has become overcrowded, and then switches to another less-crowded channel.

Wi-Fi routers not only suffer from growing overcrowding from users within a home, but they must also contend with competition from household devices such as microwave ovens, cordless phones, and baby monitors, as well as from neighbors. NetGear claims the Clear Channel Selector can help compensate, reducing sudden disconnects and slowdowns.

A feature carried over from some other NetGear routers, such as the N300, is the inclusion of ReadyShare Cloud functionality, which supports shared private cloud-like storage from an attached USB hard disk drive (HDD) or flash drive. The feature offers secure access and file sharing within the home network or across the Internet without requiring the intervention of a public file-sharing site, says the company.

With the cloud service controlled by the user, there are "no worries about privacy policies or what happens if the service suddenly goes out of business," says NetGear. ReadyShare Cloud lets users designate which files and folders on the USB drive can be shared. The files can then be accessed from remote or local computers, as well as via NetGear apps for Android smartphones and tablets or the Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, says the company.

The N600 runs on an unnamed 32-bit, MIPS-based processor clocked to 680MHz, and is further equipped with 128MB of RAM and 16MB of flash memory, says NetGear. Four gigabit Ethernet LAN ports are supplied, as well as a WAN gigabit Ethernet port. A USB port is also said to be available.

Netgear N600, rear view

(Click to enlarge)

In addition to the ReadyShare Cloud functionality, software features are said to include:

  • ReadyShare Printer — enables USB printers plugged into the N600 to be accessed by any computer linked to the network
  • NetGear Genie — lets users monitor, control, and repair a network
  • NetGear Live Parental Controls — tracks website visits, including time of day and time online, spanning all devices on the network including Windows and Linux PCs, Macs, smartphones, and tablets
  • guest network — allows visitors to go online without requiring access to a home network password, thereby protecting access to networked computers, printers, and storage
  • DLNA — supports the DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) standard for streaming media to DLNA-enabled HDTVs, Blu-ray players, and game consoles
  • automatic Quality-of-Service (QoS) — prioritizes video streams over other home network traffic, said to improve video quality
  • TiVo storage — expanded storage for TiVo owners via a connected USB drive
  • automatic WiFi security — preconfigured wireless security, featuring double firewall protection, denial-of-service prevention, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA/WPA2-PSK), WEP, and multiple SSID guest networks

Like the RangeMax Wireless-N Gigabit Router and other NetGear routers, the N600 is supported by a MyOpenRouter community, says NetGear. The site offers open source Linux firmware for tweaking and customizing the router, as well as forums, reviews, and other features, says the company. Support is offered here for advanced features such as the ability to swap out Linux for another OS, according to the NetGear spokesperson.

Stated Som Pal Choudhury, NetGear director of product marketing, "The unprecedented feature set of this advanced router makes wireless connections more reliable, breaks down the barriers to file-sharing in the cloud and much more — yet it's easy to set up and manage."


The NetGear N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router — Premium Edition (WNDR3800) is now available worldwide from major retailers, selling in the U.S. for $180. The ReadySHARE Cloud apps for iOS and Android devices are said to be available now at $3 a pop. More information on the N600 may be found at NetGear's N600 web page.

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