Having been inspired by the Dialog Box video about Dual Band Wireless-N, and encouraged by David Long's comments on both the Intel 4965 Wireless Adapter and Netgear Routers, I decided to give it a shot. This will not be anything like a comprehensive "review", as I don't use things like the Setup Wizard or "Push 'N' Connect", but I would like to at least report some initial results and comparison with my previous router, a Linksys WRT350N.
First, the Netgear WNDR3300 is very flashy - literally! It has lots of good status LEDs on the front edge, which let you know what is happening with the Internet connection, the wired ethernet ports, and the 2.4GHz and 5 GHz wireless bands. In addition it has a large blue plastic "blob" on the side with a gaggle of LED's blinking under it (no explanation that I could find of what the significance of these is). All in all it makes for quite a nice light show - as long as you, or your guests, don't have to try to sleep in the same room with it!
Setup was dead easy, at least as far as I do it. As I said, I don't use the "Setup Wizard" CD, After connecting an RJ-45 cable from my laptop to the router, I logged in to the router administration page, and within 2 minutes I had it set the way I wanted it - 2.4GHz+5GHz, Wireless-G and -N networks with different SSID's, WPA2 security. I ran into one thing which confirmed a suspicion that I had about the Linksys router. When I had first set up my wireless networking, I let Windows generate a WPA key for it. The key it produced was 64 hex digits, but the Linksys router setup would only accept 63 characters. In the Netgear setup, it says that the key can be up to 63 alphanumeric characters, or up to 64 hex digits, and sure enough it accepted the original key. All of the devices that I connect also happily accepted the 64-digit key, so I suppose this is some sort of bug or limitation in the Linksys router.
Once the router was configured, I started switching over my various wireless devices. First, of course, was my primary laptop, the Lifebook S6510 with a built-in Intel 4965AGN wireless adapter. Windows 'View Available Wireless Networks" showed both the -G and -N SSID's; I selected the -G, entered the key, and it connected at 54 MB/s. Good. The 2.4GHz LED was blinking on the router. Disconnect, select the -N network, enter the key, and it connected - at 270 MB/s! Wow! I have never gotten more than 130 MB/s connecting to the Linksys router! The 5GHz LED was blinking on the router, so as usual the information from David Long was correct. A few minutes of experimentation showed that the Wireless-N connection speed varied from 300 MB/s (yes, really) to about 108 MB/s.
The big difference between the -G and -N networks was the range through my house. As I have said before, Swiss houses are generally difficult for wireless networks. They are built with lots of brick, concrete and steel reinforcing bars in all of the floors and walls, inside and out. The router is installed in the top floor of my house, which is one large open room. As long as I stayed there, the -G and -N signals were equal strength. As soon as I went down one floor, to the bedroom level, the -G network (2.4GHz) signal strength was noticeably higher than the -N network (5GHz), but both were still usable, and of course the -N was still faster. When I went down one more floor, to the living/dining/kitchen area, the -N signal was so weak that the laptop couldn't stay connected to it, but the -G network was still usable, and still reported 54 MB/s speed.
The quality of the Wireless-G coverage in the ground floor actually surprised me, because it was at least as good as I had been getting with the Linksys WRT350N router. The Linksys router has three very impressive-looking antennae sticking out of it, whereas the Netgear has no visible antennae! Once again, David Long's comments about the Netgear's 8 internal antennae being better than 3 proves to be correct.
Next up was my partner's desktop computer, which has a Linksys WMP300N Wireless-N PCI Adapter. Hmmm. It only sees the Wireless-G network, no sign of the -N network in 'View Available Wireless Networks". Check the driver to be sure it is up to date (it is). Reboot, Refresh, Re-check. No joy, no Wireless-N. Strange. I don't know if the signal is just too weak for the Linksys adapter to pick it up (I hope not, since it has a huge antenna, and my laptop picked it up when I was standing right next to her computer), or if there is some sort of difference in the Linksys and Netgear Wireless-N implementation. But at least the Wireless-G connected with no problems, and is stable at 54 MB/s.
The Pinnacle (Roku) SoundBridge Internet Radio, detected and connected to the Wireless-G network with no trouble. Well, as long as you consider entering 64 hex digits via the remote control to be "no trouble". By the way, this unit only does WPA security, not WPA2, so obviously the Netgear router is accepting both.
Finally, my neighbor, who shares my internet connection, has a Linksys WMP54GX400 wireless adapter. Signal strength was good, he was able to connect to the Wireless-G network with no problem, and it is stable at 54 MB/s.
The only thing I haven't tried yet is my older laptop, with an Atheros wireless interface. I'll take that home tonight and try it, but I don't expect any problem with it.
In summary, I am very pleased with the Netgear WNDR3300. It was easy to install, even without using their "Installation Wizard CD", easy to connect, even without using other Netgear interfaces with "Push 'N' Connect", and it covers my rather difficult house quite well. The speed is good to excellent, and it works with all of the other devices that I have around the house. Best of all, it cost 169 Swiss Francs (about £80 or $160), which is 100 francs less than the Linksys WRT350N!