So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Convenient ADSL2+ and wireless connectivity
- Quick and easy-to-use Web interface, QoS, good range of filtering options, LELA is useful
- Slightly slow wireless speed
This all-in-one ADSL2+ router is stylish, and it also proved to be reliable in our tests, albeit a little slow. If you shop around, you should be able to find it for $130-$150, which makes it great value.
Price$ 199.95 (AUD)
For the most part, this all-in-one router is great. It has a built-in ADSL2+ modem and an 802.11 draft-n wireless access point, it's easy to set up and use, and it also looks good. But its wireless performance was a little underwhelming in our tests, as the router delivered slightly slower results than we were expecting from its 802.11n mode.
In our wireless tests, the WAG160N delivered an average throughput of 5.09MBps (megabytes per second) to our 802.11n-equipped laptop using a Linksys 300N version 2 notebook adapter, which is about 1.2MBps slower than we expected (the Linksys WRT310N, for example, delivered a speed of 6.3MBps). Still, it was consistent throughout our test period and it delivered slightly better performance than the WRT310N when running 802.11g and 802.11n devices at the same time.
Transferring data to our 802.11n notebook while simultaneously streaming data to an 802.11g-based Netgear Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000, the WAG160N averaged 4.59MBps. This means that the WAG160N will suit mixed networks, which is just as well because the Web configuration interface doesn't allow for the wireless mode to be changed. You can only run in mixed mode, but you can change the channel width from 20MHz to 40MHz. It would be nice to have the ability to run in a dedicated 802.11n mode.
The most convenient part of the WAG160N is its built-in ADSL2+ modem. This makes it a neat all-in-one solution, and of course it's much easier to set up than a separate router and modem combination. We achieved good connectivity from this modem, as it provided download speeds over 20Mbps (megabits per second) through our iiNet account. Furthermore, we experienced good uptime, with no irregular drop-outs or slow-downs throughout our test period.
Setting up the unit was a simple task using the supplied CD (which also includes Linksys EasyLink Advisor), but this does take longer than if you configure it using the Web interface. We found the Web interface to be easy to use, and most importantly it didn't restart after every little change in the settings. In fact, it was quite fast at implementing any changes we made, be they wireless network changes or new port-forwarding settings. It has plenty of settings to play with, including firewall filters, URL and keyword filters, as well as QoS settings (which aren't fully documented and require some Googling to figure out exactly what they do).
Physically, the router is thin and won't take up much room; it can also be wall-mounted. It has a petite power adapter, so you won't have to juggle power bricks to give it its juice, and its two antennas are hidden inside the body (it's nothing like the WAG325N!). Sandwiched between the modem port and the reset button are four 10/100 Ethernet ports, and the unit also has a shortcut button for activating Wi-fi Protected Setup.
For advanced users, the WAG160N supports VPN passthrough for IPSec, PPTP and L2TP protocols, and remote management. However, it did let us log into its Web interface remotely by using the default password.
Despite the WAG160N's slightly slow wireless speed, we're happy with this unit and think it's a great choice if you're looking for an affordable, good-looking and easy to use all-in-one unit. Street pricing starts from around $130, which is a bargain.
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