Review: Netgear WGT624v3

I’ve used this router for years, and it’s performed dutifully until recently. With recent firmware updates however, two notable feature have stopped working correctly: listing devices that have opened ports using Universal Plug N Play (UPnP) and having the router detect and fetch firmware updates itself.

Why does the UPnP listing matter to me so much? Because I have two routers: one for WEP and one for WAP. The WAP router exists inside the WEP network. As both are acting as gateways, this allows me to give devices in my home WEP access without compromising the rest of internal network. However, if devices open up ports on the WAP router, those ports are not going to be opened up on the WEP router. Thus, I need to know what ports are being opened.

This worked fine until I went to do the More Ports On XBox Live article. A firmware update was available but didn’t solve the problem. A settings reset did, but I should have known something was up when ports remained “stuck” even when the devices were turned off.

My wife recently started playing Phantasy Star Universe with me, which meant for the first time I actually had two XBox 360’s running at the same time. For whatever reason, the first one to connect to XBox Live was the only one that could be heard by other people in the party. The second person was SOL, even though we could always hear each other through the headset.

There was yet another firmware update available, but this time the update and settings reset did not work.

For the heck of it, I checked DD-WRT to see the status of Atheros chipset support. Lo and behold, what do you know? It’s there BUT Netgear encrypts their firmware files so third party firmware can’t be loaded.

Another thing that has bothered me from the very beginning was the unnecessary restriction of not being able to tell the router to hand out IP addresses that were out of range with those you assign statically. In other words, if I tell the router to always give my file server the IP address 192.168.1.2, I can’t tell it to start handing out IP addresses via DHCP at 192.168.1.201. Why? Setting DHCP to start handing out dynamic IP addresses this high is a good way to single out new/unknown computers on the network. With Netgear’s logic, new/unknown computers now fill in gaps in my IP addressing scheme.

And lastly, I have no clue why vendors fail to understand how URLs work. If you’re going to tell your hardware to check a URL for updates, you better make sure that URL is available forever. That’s just piss-poor customer service, because only techies like myself are going to know right off the bat where to go to get firmware updates. The others are just going to assume, incorrectly, that you know what you’re doing and their firmware is up-to-date.

So long Netgear! You have been replaced by the Asus WL-520GU and the third party DD-WRT.