- Simple, Web-based configuration
- cradle reduces desktop footprint.
- No dial-up support
- limited firewall configuration.
Intel's Wireless Gateway is aimed squarely at broadband users, having no facilities for dial-up connections, but offering separate Ethernet ports for LAN and Internet connections. Although its firewall protection is as good as any other product's, you can't configure it to the same extent, which could interfere with network applications.
You can sit Intel's Wireless Gateway on your desk or mount it on the wall, and you're also supplied with a cradle that holds the unit up nearly vertical. This means it takes up less desk space, and the antennas are placed higher. The antennas are hinged so they can be vertical irrespective of how you mount the Wireless Gateway.
The Wireless Gateway has a single Ethernet port for LAN connection and one for the Internet connection. The LAN port is wired in the same way as an Ethernet adapter, so that it plugs straight into a hub or switch using a straight Ethernet cable. However, to connect a PC to this port directly you need the supplied crossover cable -- a standard cable won't work. Although the Wireless Gateway has a serial port, this is for management and not a modem connection.
You configure Wireless Gateway using a browser -- providing you know its IP address. You can also manage the Wireless Gateway through its serial port using a null modem cable (not supplied). This allows you to set the unit up if you already have a wired network and don't want to change its configuration in order to access the Wireless Gateway. The Web interface is password-protected, and any failed attempts to log in will be recorded in an intruder detection log.
There's a setup wizard that walks you through configuration, including your Internet connection type. This wizard is quite simple and makes a few assumptions, so if you want to have a more complex configuration, you'll need to use the advanced settings page.
The gateway's security features are similar to those found in many other gateways. A firewall is built in that blocks unsolicited incoming traffic by default. You can open certain ports to certain systems on your network in order to provide services such as a Web site. However, there's no facility to remove firewall protection from any host, as may be required by complex network applications such as online gaming.
You can restrict wireless access to the Wireless Gateway based on MAC address. This can either be an explicit list of those wireless adapters allowed to connect to the gateway, or you can deny individual adapters access. For a home network with only one or two adapters in use, you'll want the former of these options, and we'd advise that you use this facility.
You have the ability to use dynamic routing protocols with the Wireless Gateway (something not seen on any of the other products in this review), but this is of little, if any, use in a home networking environment using a dial-up or broadband connection. It's the sort of feature more at home in a complex corporate network.
The Wireless Gateway's performance is reasonable, but not outstanding. It lags behind the front runners -- typically based on Orinoco's chipset -- but still provides reasonable throughput.
Although it's a good product in itself, the Wireless Gateway offers little that makes it a compelling choice. It doesn't provide a choice of connection methods, and has nothing extra above its gateway functions.