Why virtualise your NAS environment?
- Good wireless range and reliable speed, easy to set-up Internet and wireless settings
- Has some hard-to-set-up features, such as its QoS feature; doesn't have a built-in ATA for VoIP
While it doesn't have the fastest wireless networking facilities, this modem/router performed reliably in our tests and produced good wireless range. Some of its features are cryptic, but novice users shouldn't be discouraged as it's actually an easy unit to configure for Internet access and wireless networking.
Price$ 158.00 (AUD)
At the heart of it, the NB6Plus4W is an ADSL2+ modem with an 802.11g wireless access point and a 10/100 Ethernet switch. It's very easy to get up and running, even though it doesn't use Netcomm's traditional Web interface design, and, physically, it's not a bad sort, either.
This ADSL2+ modem uses the same chipset and Web interface as the Dynalink RTA1046VW, so it has many of the same functions and limitations of that model, but it's not a complete all-in-one solution. It doesn't have built-in VoIP capabilities, but it does give you the ability to connect it to a PC via a USB port, instead of an Ethernet port. Physically, the Netcomm is smaller than the Dynalink, has the same type of external antenna, and it looks much nicer overall. Importantly, it has a power button, which is a welcomed feature for anyone who wants a simple way to switch off the unit at night.
Like the Dynalink, this modem was very easy to set-up; we entered our details and it worked out the rest by itself. However, when you enter your password, it doesn't obscure the letters, so if you're paranoid about your ADSL account's password being found out, don't set this modem up while other people are in the room. The same is true of the wireless password when you initially set it up.
The modem supports ADSL2+ speeds, as well as snail-paced ADSL1 connections, and in our tests it was reliable. It connected to our iiNet ADSL2+ account at a reported 24Mbps, and we recorded a peak transfer speed of 2.8MBps while downloading files from various sites simultaneously. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the modem gave us peak transfers of 52KBps on a 512Kbps ADSL1 connection.
With only 54Mbps of theoretical wireless throughput available, this Netcomm isn't the best solution to distribute a fast ADSL2+ connection such as ours – a unit with 802.11 draft-n capability will provide a much wider thoroughfare for wireless traffic – but it will do just fine when transferring wireless data from slower ADSL2+ connections (say between 4-16Mbps) to wireless clients. It turned out to be a few seconds faster than the Dynalink in our transfer tests, where it averaged 2.49MBps while transferring wireless data in an environment with double-brick walls and doors. Of course, this speed will vary depending on your own environment. The Netcomm was also stronger when simultaneously transferring data to a notebook and streaming a high-quality video to a Netgear Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000. The file transfer averaged 1.87MBps, but we did notice some stuttering in the playback of the streaming video, so it wasn't all smooth sailing.
As for reliability, in a scenario where we simultaneously streamed data to two wireless clients and one wired client, while running a peer-to-peer program, the modem didn't falter.
Without MIMO antenna technology, this unit might not be able to send its wireless signal as far as some newer models, but it still does a very good job; we were actually able to stream a video comfortably up to approximately 25m before it became choppy.
If you feel like playing with its settings, the Netcomm has port-forwarding facilities, an IP filter and a QoS feature for LAN and Internet-bound traffic. However, the QoS is cryptic to understand, so you will have to do some research to find out exactly how it works.
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