As Wi-Fi hardware rapidly becomes standardised and prices head floorwards, Wi-Fi vendors are always on the lookout for functions that will differentiate their kit from the common herd. Offering higher bandwidth is definitely one way of grabbing customers’ attention. Hardly had the ink dried on the ratification of the 54Mbps 802.11g Wi-Fi standard than chip makers began offering chipsets capable of running at 108Mbps. So it is that Netgear has delivered its first Super-G Wi-Fi hardware in the shape of a wireless firewall router, the WGT624, and its matching PC Card adapter, the WG511T. Rather than using oversized packets, Super-G (the brainchild of wireless innovator Atheros) uses a combination of tricks to deliver extra bandwidth, including double-channel bonding and compression.
Super-G is entirely proprietary and so isn’t interoperable with any other non-Netgear Super-G kit. Curiously, 108Mbps mode has to be activated explicitly. The router side of the WGT624 is typical of Netgear so is very well specified, offering such desirable features as content filtering, the ability to block outbound traffic, logging and e-mail alerts. It also offers an SPI (Stateful Packet Inspection) firewall and remote management. New to the range is a Smart Setup Wizard and the ability to directly update the firmware — a useful feature. Netgear has been a laggard in including WPA (Wi-Fi protected access) security, so it’s nice to see it included.
Predictably, you don’t get 108Mbps of bandwidth from the WGT624 — it’s nearer 40Mbps. This seems low but it’s roughly double that of 54G and is the fastest wireless networking we’ve seen. Super-G also promises a larger broadcast area, and the higher bandwidth was well maintained over distance.
As long as you’re prepared to stand-ardise on just one vendor, Netgear’s Super-G Wi-Fi kit is impressive. It offers double the bandwidth of typical 802.11g devices, along with a laundry list of features. It’s easy to use and decently priced.
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