- Good performance
- well specified
- good security
- Not Wi-Fi certified
- boring appearance
No, we’ve never heard of KCORP LifeStyle either, but it’s a start-up based near Heathrow airport. The company's initial product range is quite small, comprising just two sets of wireless hardware, each comprising a wireless router plus PCI and PC Card adapters. The Silver range is based on the official 802.11g standard and so runs at a nominal 54Mbps, while the Gold devices -- which are based on Atheros’s Super G ‘turbo’ technology -- run, according to the label on the box, at 108Mbps. We looked at the latter: the £70 (ex. VAT) KLG-575 router, plus the KLG-530 PCI card and KLG-520 PC Card adapters (£40 ex. VAT each).
The KLG-575 router has a ‘par for the course’ feature set: it combines a four-port 10/100Mbps Ethernet switch with an integrated 'turbo' 802.11g access point. In common with its rivals, it offers a laundry-list of sophisticated features such as Dynamic DNS, VPN pass-through, 802.1x authentication, URL blocking, DMZ support and MAC address filtering. It also features a built-in firewall and strong security in the form of Wireless Protected Access (WPA). The firewall is relatively easy to set up, although it would have been nice to see some pre-defined rules available, for common applications or games.
Even by router standards, the KLG-575 is unremarkably dull, its black case enlivened by some green status LEDs at the front. It has a single, screw-on dipole antenna at the rear. The accompanying CD-ROM holds the drivers for the NICs and complete documentation as a PDF file -- the accompanying setup leaflet is fairly basic. Luckily, it’s easy enough to setup unassisted. The KLG-575 router comes set to 192.168.1.1 as its factory default and with its built-in DHCP server enabled. So all you'll need to do is plug in a client that's set to obtain its IP address information automatically, maybe do a DHCP release / renew (or reboot your client computer) and enter the default password into the login box that pops up. A six-step setup wizard walks you through the details that need to be entered. It then auto-detects your WAN connection and restarts. Online help could be better, as could the spelling.
Atheros has come in for some stick with its Super G technology, which uses just about every trick under the sun to squeeze more bandwidth out of the ether. Rival chipmakers have accused it of being a ‘bad neighbour’ in that Super G can have a debilitating effect on other wireless networks in its vicinity -- particularly slower 802.11b networks, where its channel bonding can effectively bring the other network to its knees.
Three 'turbo' modes are available: plain Super G, dynamic turbo and static turbo, but we were hard-pressed to detect any significant differences between these last two modes. Using QCheck to benchmark wireless performance, we got about 25Mbps from the KLG-530 card connecting to a Linksys WRT54G router -- a typical 802.11g result. This rose to a very respectable 38Mbps on replacing the Linksys unit with the ‘turbo’ KLG-575. This is, of course, a far cry from 108Mbps promised on the box, but it's one of the faster wireless speeds we’ve come across.
Interestingly, when we swapped the KLG-575 for a Netgear WGT624, which employs the same Super G technology, we could only get 33Mbps of bandwidth, which illustrates the highly proprietary nature of Super G.