Design and set-up
The Netgear Wireless-N Router WNR2000 looks like others in Netgear's RangeMax series, with internal antennas, a vertical stand, and a sleek casing that's, unfortunately, a fingerprint magnet. Measuring only 178x130x36mm, however, it's about two-thirds the size of other routers, making it one of Netgear's most compact Wireless-N routers.
On the front of the router resides an array of LEDs that display the status of each port as well as the status of the internet and wireless connections. Also on the front is the Wi-Fi Protected Setup button, which instigates a short window of time where other WPS-compliant clients can enter the network without manually entering the encryption code.
On the back of the router are four LAN ports and one WAN port, and an on/off switch. The router is designed to operate in the vertical position and comes with a detachable stand. It's not wall-mountable, though.
We had no problem setting up the WNR2000. The router comes with a software application that walks you through the set--up process, from setting up the hardware, to creating the wireless network. Alternatively you can use the router's web interface for the set-up process; the interface itself has another web-based wizard that walks you through step by step.
Considering its physical size and the price point, we didn't expect a lot of features out of the WNR2000; but the router offers something most routers don't: semi-web-based Parent Control, which Netgear offers in collaboration with OpenDNS. Overall, this offers a simple, free and effective way to conveniently oversee the use of internet at home.
To use this, you first need to install the Netgear Live Parent Control software (which is on the included CD). This guides you through a few steps of setting up a free online account with OpenDNS and setting up the overall web-filter level between five levels: high, moderate, low, minimum and none, where high means most will be blocked, and none means nothing will be blocked.
From there, you no longer need the software. From anywhere in the world, you can now go to the Parental Controls Center site, log in with the account you just created, and further customise the web-filtering feature of the router.
Also, you can define the content that each filtering level will block. For example, by default the "moderate" level doesn't include "video sharing", but you can put a check in front of this category to add it. There are about 54 different categories to choose from and each of them states what content it filters.
Once a filtering level is set, all computers using the WNR2000 routers will have the same level of blocking. In order to add an exception, you'll need to create bypass accounts and install the Netgear User Utility (which can be downloaded from the Netgear OpenDNS web account) on the computer that will make use of the exception.
Other than the Parental Control, the WNR2000 offers a standard set of networking features found in most Wireless-N routers, such as the ability to assign a fixed IP address to a computer in the network and forward certain services to it. This would come in handy if you want to set up a computer within the network to be an FTP or web server.
For security, the router features virtually all encryption standards found in wireless routers, including all the variations of WEP and WPA. And as mentioned above, it also supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup, a feature that allows users to quickly add wireless clients to the network without having to manually type in the encryption key.
The Netgear Wireless-N Router WNR2000's throughput performance met our expectations for a router of this size and price point.
In CNET Labs' max throughput tests, the router scored 33.6Mbps, a bit faster than the D-Link DIR-615. At this speed, the Netgear can finish transmitting 500MB of data over the wireless network in less than two minutes.
In range tests, the WNR2000 did much better at 32.2Mbps compared with the 21.7Mbps of the D-Link DIR-615. It was also the winner between the two in the mixed mode test at 30Mbps.
We've seen much better performance in other Wireless-N routers, but they are also much more expensive than the WNR2000. On the other hand, the WNR2000 can put bigger and more-expensive routers to shame when it comes to range. We were able to keep a stable connection with the router from more than 310 feet away in our testing facility. Most other high-end routers' range stops at around 270 feet.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
The WNR2000's web interface, though intuitive, is sluggish at times without any apparent reason. Sometimes we had to restart the router to be able to log in again, though other functions of the router were working fine. We hope that this will be fixed with a new firmware update.