The NB12WD's package is big, but then it needs to be. Apart from the larger-than-average gateway itself, you've also got a bundled DORO DECT handset and charging station, and chargers for both. The router body follows NetComm's standard style guidelines, only a touch larger than usual. Tastes will of course vary, but we found the size of the unit did highlight that it comes in a rather cheap looking plastic enclosure. Then again, this is a router, and as we've mentioned before, you can chuck them in a cupboard as long as it doesn't degrade the signal.
It's a good job that the rear and side ports on the gateway are well labelled, as there's an awful lot of them. On the back you'll find ADSL and phone line sockets, four Ethernet and two phone handset ports, and a power button, while round the side you'll find USB type A and B ports and a DECT synchronisation button and light.
The NB12WD is, as mentioned, a physically large unit, and NetComm's made sure to stuff its plastic innards with plenty of functionality. It's an ADSL2+ capable modem, 802.11g capable wireless router and VoIP ATA with an FXO "Lifeline" port for genuine landline calls in an emergency as well. Up to four VoIP account numbers can be configured within the NB12WD's web-based configuration utility. Plenty of VoIP ATA devices offer some kind of hook-up to wireless handsets, but the NB12WD takes this to an interesting level, as it's also a DECT GAP-compliant base station. NetComm bundles a single DORO DECT handset with the NB12WD; in theory up to five GAP-compliant DECT handsets could be paired with the NB12WD.
Installation of the NB12WD was a little different to the NetComm products we've reviewed in the past, simply due to the fact that the unit comes without a set-up poster or printed documentation of any kind. Instead, you get an installation CD with manuals and the quickstart guide in PDF format. And when NetComm says "Quickstart", they mean it — there's precious little here apart from offering a sample connection layout and the details of how to log into the Web interface. Even once you get into the web interface things are a little bereft of detail. The quick installation option only takes you through setting up your ADSL connection, which would leave you with a theoretically functional device, but one with no configured VoIP or for that matter, wireless security enabled. Given that the recently reviewed N3G005W comes with wireless security pre-enabled, it's a very odd omission.
The other factor that plays into the NB12WD's build is that, due at least in part to it being such a multifunctional device, it's also rather complicated to set up. Take VoIP, for example; not only do you have to be conversant in the codecs, ports and other default settings of your given VoIP provider, but you've also got to remember to configure the account details properly across four potential VoIP accounts — although we couldn't spot a way to configure multiple VoIP providers, so that would have to presumably be four VoIP accounts from the same provider. It's great to have the flexibility to set things up this way, but the flip side is that it's not really novice friendly, and an all-in-the-box solution like this is likely to attract a novice crowd that appreciates having everything in the one box. Novices may wish to phone a friend — at least with the NB12WD's FXO fall-back port, they should be able to do that fairly simply.
Speaking of making phone calls, the supplied DECT handset worked well in our tests, although we must note that it's exceptionally bright and orange, which is a bit wearing on the eyes when you're punching in phone numbers.
We were somewhat disappointed to note that the NB12WD is only 802.11g capable. While 802.11n has been a bust in terms of the hype surrounding it, it is still faster in most testing situations, and considering the NB12WD's premium price point, premium speed might have been a nice addition. Likewise, the four Ethernet ports on offer are only 10/100, not gigabit.
In our testing, the NB12WD stood up well in terms of stability and basic speed — bearing in mind this is only an 802.11g unit — but we were struck by the fact that the asking price is arguably a little high for what's on offer. If you like the appeal of having all your tools within a single box, it's a decent offering, but mixing and matching could bring the same results for less money.