The FWG114P wireless firewall print server sports the classic Netgear look with a dark-blue metal housing and several well-positioned LEDs on the front. The back panel contains an Ethernet WAN port, a USB 2.0 port, a serial port for a modem and a four-port Ethernet switch. The switch is equipped with Auto Uplink technology, which eliminates the need for crossover cables when connecting to other switches or routers.
In addition to the wireless firewall itself, the box contains a power adapter, an Ethernet cable, a printed installation guide and a resource CD with one of the best manuals we've seen. The electronic manual has a series of appendices on networking that describe topics such as subnet masks and network address translation in clear, concise language.
Thanks to its well-designed, Web-based Smart Wizard, the FWG114P is easy to set up, too. The wizard is compatible with any standard Web browser, so you can access it from Windows, Macintosh and Linux computers. The check boxes in the wizard's interface track that tasks that you've completed, and interactive diagrams show you how to connect the cables. It doesn't update your Windows network settings, but the Netgear Smart Wizard does provide detailed information on how to make those changes.
Netgear's Web-based configuration utility offers access to a number of advanced-settings options. Plus, if an incorrect setting brings down your network, the wireless firewall's handy configuration save/restore feature rolls it back to the old settings.
The Netgear FWG114P wireless firewall print server offers a strong set of security, filtering and logging options. The wireless firewall uses SPI (Stateful Packet Inspection) and filtering rules to forward or block specified traffic. Other security features, such as the blocking of keywords, Java and ActiveX, work together with NAT and the filtering rules to secure your network from outside hackers. The FWG114P supports both 64/128-bit WEP and WPA security, but we would also like to see a WDS mode that would allow the firewall to wirelessly communicate with other 802.11g access points, as in Buffalo's AirStation router and repeater.
Netgear's FWG114P has the right feature set for a modern home office. It comes with ISDN/modem auto failover to keep you connected via a phone line if your broadband line goes down, Dynamic DNS so that Internet users can find your services even if you receive a dynamic IP address from your ISP, a DMZ that allows you to place a computer or server outside your firewall, and a 100Mbps WAN port to support faster broadband connections in the future. The wireless firewall's USB print server feature lets you connect a supported USB printer and share it among your networked computers. Although the print server feature works with only specific printers, the list is long and includes models from Canon, Compaq, Epson, HP and Lexmark. The wireless firewall also supports universal plug and play and has a remote-access feature that lets you configure and reset the device via a connection over the Internet.
The Netgear FWG114P wireless firewall print server comes second only to the U.S. Robotics 8054 in our 802.11g throughput testing, reaching a maximum throughput of 25Mbps. In mixed-mode testing with 802.11b transmissions, the wireless firewall topped out at 12.5Mbps, placing it higher than most other products we've tested, although significantly lower than the U.S. Robotics 8054.
In our range tests, the FWG114P takes its place at the head of the pack. It had the best performance-over-distance curve we've seen so far.
The wireless firewall also handles a sizable network, with support for up to 64 wireless clients and 253 NAT clients. We tested the FWG114P using Version 1.0 Release 16 firmware.
Netgear's product-support Web site includes contact information for emailing or calling technical support, firmware updates and useful online documentation, along with an online interactive learning tool called Mentor provided free for Netgear customers. The support page for the Netgear wireless firewall contains several worthwhile FAQs covering the device's various security features, including overviews and troubleshooting advice as well as detailed configuration tips.