A tiny, inexpensive router with a couple of surprises – including bandwidth management and an Expert mode for advanced users
Although it's not designed as a portable travel router, the tiny Zyxel NBG-419N V2 wireless router could just about fit in a large pocket. It is also very cheap, but it has some surprising features for the price.
Part of the explanation for its low cost is that it isn't a dual-band router, although it does support theoretical speeds of up to 300Mbits/sec. It also lacks an ADSL modem, so it is best suited for cable or BT Infinity broadband services.
Four 100Mbits/sec network ports and a 100Mbits/sec internet port are found on the back, plus there's a USB2 port on the side. As well as a wireless on/off button and a WPS quick-connect button, there's also a handy button that disables the nine green status lights on the front in case they're too distracting.
Setup is very easy. Opening a browser the first time after connecting the router starts the Eazy 123 wizard to set up the internet connection and wireless network. The main configuration screen then appears, which has an unusual but simple graphical interface.
Below this are buttons for some features rarely found in budget routers. One is the Bandwidth Management setting, which allows various activities (such as gaming, VoIP, web browsing and video streaming) to be prioritised over others by dragging their icons up or down a list. For experienced users, there is an Expert mode that opens a text-based menu with even more status information and advanced features.
USB storage, printers and scanners can be shared by installing the Net USB utility on each PC. There's no streaming media server, though, and only one user can connect to a storage device at a time - the software allows a user to request the use of a device.
Its performance was interesting. Although its 30Mbits/sec top speed at close range was quite low, it had excellent range. At 25m, we measured 18Mbits/sec, which is better than some of the more expensive models we've seen.
The Zyxel NBG-419N V2 isn't very fast, but its low price and long range make it attractive for users on a budget.
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An inexpensive little router combining adequate performance with some surprisingly advanced features
Cheap; Compact; Printer and scanner sharing; Simple bandwidth management; Good range
Very basic storage sharing; Poor maximum speeds
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