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Netgear RangeMAX 240 Review

Highs

  • Fast wireless speeds when working; improves existing wireless connections

Rating

Our Score 6.5
User Score 3

Lows

  • Expensive; no PCI-card adapter; not enough compatibility options
Go with someone who has more compatibility and better prices.

Wireless Internet is becoming more commonplace in all our lives. However, sometimes we need a high-speed connection for HD content, gaming, and other devices. Netgear’s new RangeMax 240 router solves a lot of the problem, but not all of it. You’ll find its high speeds are great and it does broadcast farther than any other router around. But with only a USB adaptor and a PC Card available to take advantage of this new technology, is it really worth it? Read on to find out more and decide if RangeMax is right for you.

Features and Design

Generally speaking, most routers tend to not be on the pretty side of things. They’re usually designed to be sturdy and reliable, which is fine. But some of us enjoy having a router that looks decent and performs well. The Netgear RangeMax240 is one of those routers. It’s thin and comes with a glossy white paint job that seems to look decent in most places you put it.  It does however have 3 antennas protruding from the back of it though, so it’s not entirely home friendly like the Apple Airport Extreme Base Station.

On the front of the device, you’ll find your basic indicator lights that show power and Internet connectivity status. These lights are actually designed really nicely and look better than just an LED shoved into a plastic housing. The back of the device features a power jack, 3 antennas, and Ethernet ports. It’s nice to see that Netgear hasn’t forgotten that not everyone uses wireless on all their products. So if you need to hook up your Xbox 360 or TiVo, you’ve got 4 ports to do so with. There is also a reset button in case things go wrong.

As far as features go with the RangeMax 240, you’ll find it’s backwards compatible with both 802.11b and g devices. It’s also supposed to improve the performance of your existing wireless devices by up to 50%, but don’t expect that much from this device. The big feature on RangeMax 240 though is that it can transfer data at up to 240mbps with the proper hardware. Having speeds that fast can really help things like file transfers on a home network or downloading big files. It’s using MIMO Gen3 technology to achieve these high speeds and that’s why it had 3 antenna.

If you’re a security nut, you’ll be pleased to know that Netgear has kept you in mind and has a slew of security features included with this router. They also include easy to use guides on wireless security so that amateur computer users will be able to have a secure network without the hassle of knowing what WEP or hex keys are. You’ll get Ultra Secure with Double Firewall, WEP Encryption, and WPA2 security so worry not about break-ins on your home network.

Netgear RangeMax 240
Image Courtesy of Netgear

Setup and Use

Setting up the RangeMax 240 is like most routers out there today. You get an install CD, you use it, you plug the router in, and it’s up and running. No brain surgery here folks, if you’ve set up a router before, you won’t have any problems with this one. Netgear provides you with the Ethernet cable you need to connect it to your DSL or Cable Modem so you don’t need to go digging for one. If you want maximum connectivity, you’ll need to screw in the middle antenna to the router. A bit annoying that this just isn’t done beforehand, but nothing to get upset about.

There is a big problem however with this Router that Netgear has yet to truly address: connectivity. There is only a notebook PC card and USB adaptor out that will connect you at super fast speeds. The PC card alone is $100! Not only is $100 an insane amount of money to pay for a notebook card, but not everyone can use it. Netgear needs a cheaper solution to cater to the masses. Anyone using a notebook from Apple will not be able to enjoy the true speeds of this device either.

The RangeMax 240 does boost 802.11g performance though. You’ll find better reception than most other routers throughout your house and provided your notebook has a decent internal antenna, better speeds. I found that I could sit downstairs and get the same speeds as I would sitting in the same room as the router. This is nice, but still, it’s not pre-N and Netgear is letting some serious power go to waste.

Performance

Netgear is saying you should use their new router with high-demand services such as streaming HD content or streaming music. I agree that this device would be best used to do things like streaming music to your living room while you download huge movie files and surf the web all at the same time. But unfortunately, Netgear doesn’t provide you with enough solutions to take advantage of the pre-N speeds. Without a USB adaptor that is compatible with multiple operating systems, the 240mbps connections that Netgear is advertising will never truly be achieved.

Compared with other routers, the Rangemax 240 is obviously faster than most. But pre-N technology is becoming more popular and other companies such as Belkin are starting to come out with routers that are of the same caliber and have more solutions for connectivity and a more affordable price. The fact that this router also costs $180 will turn a lot of people off when a wireless-G router is available for $40 at your local electronics store.

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, you have a really nice looking router that improves performance and is fast. However, Netgear needs more devices that can take advantage of the RangeMax 240’s speeds and a PCI card adapter. That problem combined with the high prices of the gear makes it just not worth it at this time. Wait awhile and see what happens with pre-N networking gear. Now is not the time to be buying a bunch of equipment that could be dead in a year or two. Netgear is offering some nice stuff for people who have money to spend, but for the rest of us, we’ll play the waiting game to see what happens.

Pros

  • Fast wireless speeds
  • Improves existing wireless connections
  • Multiple Antennae

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Connectivity only through USB adaptor and PC card
  • Not enough compatibility options

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