by June 3, 2005 0 comments

Given its rich set of features and an uncluttered management interface, the AR236E is for home users and small businesses alike. It has both an Ethernet as well as USB port, which can be used simultaneously. So, you can connect the router to a PC using USB, and to a hub or switch using the Ethernet port so that everybody on the LAN as well as single machine on the USB port can use it. Unlike regular USB routers, which let you dial out directly from the PC, this one creates a virtual LAN interface on the PC instead. Due to this, only the combo router itself can dial to the connection. As a result, only the combo router gets the external IP address assigned by the ISP. You might feel that this is a setback because you can’t access the PCs on your LAN or USB port directly from the Internet, but the router has taken care of that as well. It supports VPN pass through, port-forwarding, and even DMZ to allow access to specific internal IP addresses, applications, and services from the Internet. So you could for instance, have an internal machine running an FTP server over port 21, and make it accessible from the Internet.

This is good for network administrators as they can choose the services they want, to be accessible over the Internet. The router has made life easier even for home users by putting in preset rules for a huge number of games for Internet gaming. So you could set up a game server on your machine, and allow your friends to access it through your combo router. The router supports eight different connectivity options, some of which include PPPoE, PPPoA and bridged connections.

In our tests, the router was pretty stable on both interfaces and rarely, if ever, dropped connections. We saw uptimes of upto 6 hours at a stretch, interrupted only by line-problems. It also allows you to configure UPnP, SNMP traps, QoS on IP, filters based on intranet MAC addresses, multi-cast, static and dynamic routing.

When you access the Web interface for the first time (or after a factory-reset), you get a nice quick-start wizard that takes you through setting up your DSL connection parameters.

Bottom Line: Overall, it’s a pretty good router that takes care of the ease of use for home users and adds all relevant features for small businesses.

Sujay V Sarma

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