SMC ADSL Barricade g

  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent

Pros

  • Excellent value for money
  • a well specified all-in-one Internet sharing network solution
  • good, clear user interface

Cons

  • Fixed, non-upgradeable antennae
  • sub-standard documentation

Never judge a router by its cover. SMC's ADSL Barricade g is a powerful, four-in-one network device, combining the roles of ADSL router, four-port 10/100Mbps Ethernet switch, 54Mbps 802.11g wireless access point (with support for g Nitro) and firewall. All this in a compact form-factor at an affordable price (£92.76 ex. VAT). As such, it offers very good value for money. Its strong feature set makes it a suitable choice for branch offices, small businesses and home offices.

Although it's nothing much to look at, the ADSL Barricade g is a multi-function router to contend with, as it's choc-full of sophisticated features.

The casing sports a curvy hump at the rear. Most routers run very warm to the touch, and although this one adds some much-needed ventilation holes it precludes you from stacking other boxes on top of it. A CAT 5 patch cable is provided as well as an RJ11 lead and ADSL micro-filter. The ADSL Barricade g’s LED display panel on the front shows Ethernet activity, ADSL status and power, while the rear is graced by a pair of stubby rotatable antennae.

The printed Quick Installation Guide steps you through connecting to the router and beginning the configuration process. However, some of its prose would daunt a novice user, and could be less verbose. Here’s a little tip for SMC: if you’re only going to provide online manuals in PDF format, it might be a good idea to include the Acrobat Reader on the CD-ROM. A small point, but it's easy to see how this oversight could be a show-stopper.

To get online, you fire up your browser and point it at the Barricade’s IP address, which is par for the course for this type of device. The Barricade g has a well-designed and attractive user interface. This is important because these diminutive devices are surprisingly complex and can require subtle configuration tweaks: if the UI is poor, achieving that optimal configuration becomes an uphill struggle.

The configuration home page gives you just two initial options -- Setup Wizard and Advanced Settings, a neat touch that caters both for rank novices as well as grizzled sysadmins who know their way around. The online help, while not extensive, offers enough assistance until you can load the online manual.

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Stepping through the Setup Wizard was a less than stressful experience. You set the time (important for logging and scheduled filtering). You then select your country and ISP. The ADSL Barricade g comes with half-a-dozen UK ISPs in a pick-list -- luckily my one was listed, but a few more choices would have been better. This saves having to manually enter a few parameters, that’s all. Curiously, the default DNS IP address never changes, which is maybe a trifle unfair on Demon, whose DNS server it is! You enter your login details and password and you’re done. More recent firmware, v.0.71, was available so we downloaded and installed this minor upgrade. Configuration changes ‘take’ quite quickly and don’t require a lengthy reboot, which can drive you crazy on some devices -- recent D-Link models, for example.

Most modern Wi-Fi routers offer very good security, and the Barricade g is no exception. It offers access control, MAC address filtering, URL blocking, rule scheduling, intrusion detection and DMZ support. You can set it up to send out intrusion detection email alerts to you, which is a nice touch. The stateful packet inspection firewall makes it easy to add rules, but it would have been nice to have some pre-defined games and services in a pick-list. Wireless security is every bit as good, with both 128-bit WEP and both kinds of WPA as well as 802.1x/Radius authentication.

The SMC7804WBRA is backed by a five-year warranty and free technical support.

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