on July 20, 2014
I moved into a new place in LA recently and needed a reliable wireless cable modem & router that was compatible with Time Warner, as I work from home from the computer doing remote software configuration and hold a lot of shared-screen net meetings every day. Although some will advise you to get a separate modem and router rather than a combined unit, I decided to try this combo modem/router ("gateway"), and in 2 months of use, it's been very fast, reliable, and perfect for my needs.
For those who aren't sure what is meant by "dual band," it means that when you go to connect to a wireless network, you'll see two signals there coming from this router that you can connect to (using the default password provided on a little sticker on the unit itself). The 2.4 GHz band connection is slower and likely more congested with most of your neighbors who are probably using this band, but it has a longer wireless range than the the 5 GHz band, which is likely much less congested due to the need for both a 5 GHz capable router as well as a 5 GHz capable wireless card in your computer or device, and much faster (double for me), but with shorter range.
Unless/until you change them using the Genie software (covered below), they'll probably show up in the list as something like NETGEAR for the 2.4 band, and NETGEAR 5G if your wireless card is 5 GHz capable. It's usually a good idea to change these to something more unique so that potential hackers don't know what router/gateway you are using. On with my personal results . . .
I don't like wires, so I only connect wirelessly, and I can only tell you what my wireless connection results have been living in a 1000 sq. ft., 2 bedroom condo in the heart of Los Angeles where right now I'm seeing 16 other 2.4 GHz wireless networks and one other 5 GHz.
Range - While the range is shorter on the 5 GHz signal, for me, it only goes down 1 bar if I move to another room, but this is going to vary by your own floor plan, walls between rooms, how congested your area is with others connecting on the same band and channel, etc.
Speed - I just ran a test while writing up this review and got 104.14 Mbps download and 11.10 upload speeds on the 5 GHz band. I normally get anywhere from 80 Mbps or so at the most congested times of day, to a high of almost 110 Mbps on the 5 GHz band, and anywhere from 40 to 50 Mbps downloads speeds on the 2.4 band, and consistently 10 Mbps or so upload speed on both bands. Again, keep in mind that the speed you may get will depend on what speed you pay your Internet provider for, whether your wireless card is capable of receiving the 5.0 signal to get the faster speed this modem is capable of, network congestion, etc.
Oddly, the card in my newer computer isn't 5 Ghz capable, so I don't' see that network connection in my list when logging on from that computer, while the wireless card in my older computer is 5 GHz capable. Also, my old iPhone 4s isn't, while my iPad 4 is. But for me, getting speeds of around 50 Mbps pretty consistently on the 2.4 band in a congested area with 4 devices connected (not including my wireless printer) is far more than I need to do anything I do with my computers.
Reliability - What was most important to me was reliability with no dropped connections while I'm working, and so far it's been rock solid. In over 2 months, I've had a total of one time where it disconnected at about midnight for about 10 minutes and then connected on its own again without my needing to do anything. I suspect the drop was the cable company and not the unit. I have not had to reset the unit even once.
One more thing I'm pleased about is that my Brother MFC-7860DW wireless All-In-One printer (in a different room than this Netgear Gateway) has no issues scanning wirelessly with this. I was a little concerned because I temporarily lived in another condo for 2 months while waiting to move into this one, that place had a Netgear Gateway, and I couldn't get it to scan wirelessly, something I never had a problem with when I was using my DSL wireless modem from AT&T. This is important for me because I sometimes have to sign and scan documents to send, and it seems like everyone has moved to emailing scanned documents instead of faxing.
I found the Netgear Genie software intuitive and easy to use/navigate. To log in, simply type 192.168.0.1 into the address bar in your browser, or "routerlogin.net" (works the same). There, you'll see a place to type in a username and password. The default username "admin," and the default password is "password" (unless/until you change it), and you're in!
From there, you can do all sorts of things including seeing what channels your neighbors are on so that you can pick a less congested channel. I let the software choose the least congested channel for me (choose "Auto" for this). You can also change the default connection password from the one on the sticker on your Netgear unit if you want, see the status of your cable connection (good, fair, etc.), a network map showing the number of devices connected to the router/gateway, what they are (if you see something unfamiliar, someone might be on your network), set parental controls, and even enable a "Guest" wireless network that visiting guests can use to connect, separate from your own so that you don't have to give them your connection password.
One last thing. From the other reviews I've read, you can't connect to a VPN (Virtual Private Network) with this unit. If you don't know what that is, you probably don't need to care. Until recently, my work required using a VPN for certain things. Fortunately, this is no longer the case. Otherwise, this device wouldn't work for my needs.
I hope this review helps others who have either already purchased it, or might be considering it. Again, I can only give you my experience with this device after using it for 2 months. Your results may vary.