Netgear's utilitarian blue metal box belies its ease of use and its careful attention to detail. Installation went exactly as pictured in the handy quick-setup guide, and the CD-based documentation had lots of useful information about networking and wireless technology, such as a table of port settings for common applications. With the proper port settings, you can permit online gamers and users of applications like CUseeMe and ICQ to connect directly over the Internet to a local user on your network. The 100+-page manual shows exactly how to set things up for a Web or FTP server on your network, too.
Parents will appreciate the Netgear MR314 router's content-filtering capability, which lets you restrict access to certain URLs or Web address keywords. You can also limit access to certain times of day. Logs and e-mail alerts let you know when an attempt has been made to access a blocked site. For more-advanced applications, the Netgear MR314 offers port filtering and dynamic DNS support, so you can allow games, videoconferencing programs, and other applications to access specific machines on your network from the Internet.
On top of all these powerful features, the Netgear MR314 delivers strong performance and compatibility with other vendors' client adapters. While not the fastest gateway in our tests, it was no slouch, either. Like most wireless lines, the $75 PC Card noticeably outdistanced the $80 USB adapter, so we'd recommend getting the PC Card (desktops with a free PCI slot can get the $41 PCI card that accepts the PC Card). The Netgear router also has a built-in four-port ethernet switch that eliminates the need for a separate ethernet hub in most home networks. The company offers free 24-hour toll-free phone support and a generous five-year warranty.
UPSHOT: The Netgear MR314 offers a great combination of deep firewall features (such as content filtering and Web server support), very good performance, excellent documentation, and ease of use. It also boasts a four-port ethernet switch, a five-year warranty, and a low price tag. It's hard to imagine a better value for the money.
By Denny Arar