The name is not the only long-running factor of the Netgear RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router WNDR3700. Its feature list is quite a bucketful as well. It supports Gigabit wired connections, USB storage, Wireless-N at 300Mbps, and operation in the 5 GHz radio band. Other features that would be expected in a home/SOHO router are all present too, but the caveat is that the WNDR3700 does not offer sufficient bang for the buck. The performance we saw on our sample piece may not be good enough for the high price.
For conscientious SOHO business and home users with non-unlimited data transfer plans, there is a "Traffic Meter" facility.
It arrives with normal packaging, and a resource CD that carries the manual and wizard for basic configuration. Though a little larger in dimensions than most others, the router itself looks quite plain and has a black glossy finish to it. Antennae are built-in, so you can’t adjust their positioning externally for better signal reception. The router can be wall-mounted, placed horizontally or stood-up vertically using its stand.
An array of LEDs placed at the front panel help to show when the router is powered on, has a USB device connected, machines are wired in to a LAN port, or has wireless enabled (one indicator each for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands). Buttons to initiate a WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) connection, and enable/disable wireless functionality are also located at the front. Unlike many others, this router thankfully has a power button at the back. Ports at the back include one USB port, one Ethernet uplink port, and four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports. Netgear calls the support for USB access "ReadyShare”, a nice alternative to independant NAS boxes. Any storage device you connect over USB can be accessed over the network. Supported protocols are HTTP, FTP and SMB (normal Windows file shares). For security, you can set it to allow accessing only USB devices pre-approved by you.
A major factor that sets this router apart from the crowd is its support for sending and receiving Wi-Fi radio signals over the 5 GHz spectrum, in addition to the normal 2.4 GHz band, simultaneously operating over both bands instead of forcing a choice of one band. This helps prevent interference from other devices that operate over the same radio frequency (Bluetooth, ovens, or even a neighbour’s router). If you use a compatible wireless device to access, it will be able to see wireless network SSIDs of both bands and connect to whichever you choose. Note that most laptops and desktop PCs don’t yet support 5GHz, so you’d need to buy a separate USB dongle for interference-free Wi-Fi network access.
The transmit power of radios for 2.4 and 5 GHz can be controlled through the web interface, with 100% being the default and can be reduced upto 25%. Creating guest networks is supported. The firewall on the router was sufficiently good to pass the ShieldsUp Stealth test, with default settings. You can block keywords on a schedule, and block websites yet specify an IP as being trusted. Annoyingly, the items on the left panel of the web interface just can't collapse into trees. It is useful to view all configuration heads in one go, but accessing the page from a small screen netbook might get uncomfortable. But at the very least, the interface is intuitive and does not take long breaks to "apply" the settings you change.
Most current routers support QoS (Quality of Service) priority rules for wifi multimedia, over multiple protocols and are turned off by default. Strangely, this router offers to control "uplink bandwidth" - apparently people exist who'd like to connect to the Internet at a slower speed than what the connection offers. For conscientious SOHO business and home users with non-unlimited data transfer plans, there is a "Traffic Meter" facility. Once enabled, usage can be controlled by volume (MBs) or time (Hours). When the limit is reached, a warning message can be displayed and it can then either disconnect and disable the Internet, or flash the front-panel's Internet LED in a different color. To account for Internet usage, traffic statistics are provided, that show the current day, week, month, and previous month. Due to a strange bug perhaps, it was not possible to enable this feature in the interface.
Details about the performance of this router in file transfer tests can be found on the Performance tab. Tests were conducted on a laptop using a 300 Mbps dual-band USB adapter from different distances. Tests beyond the closest range involved walls and/or ceilings in between, to bring in real-world conditions.
The WNDR3700 is a wireless router packed to the gills with features and high-end facilities to excite almost anyone. Unfortunately the range does not impress that much. Another USB port could have been added to enable print server capabilities, considering its price and that it is Netgear's flagship model in the consumer market.