ZoomAir Internet Gateway IG-4165

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  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent

Pros

  • Good performance
  • support for both dial-up and broadband connections
  • built-in print server.

Cons

  • Not wall-mounting.

Zoom's Internet Gateway IG-4165 costs slightly more than most access points, but you certainly get your money's worth. It's highly featured, has a good level of performance and is uncomplicated to set up. It will also support any type of Internet connection you're likely to have at home.

The unit itself is a low-profile desk mounting case with two external antennas. Even though you can't wall-mount the IG-4165 or stand it on its end, it's small enough at 20.2 x 11.7 x 4.0cm to fit easily into a corner.

The IG-4165 has two switched 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet ports for attaching wired clients. Another 10Mbit/s Ethernet port is available for a broadband connection, and a serial port for connecting a modem or ISDN TA. This is the only access point in this review that features both of these connection methods while still allowing wired clients to connect to the gateway. You can't use both access methods simultaneously (running a dial-up connection as a backup to the broadband connection), but switching between the two is simply a matter of going into the administrative interface and changing the setting.

The IG-4165 is unique in this test in that it also features a parallel port print server, allowing you to share a printer on the network without needing a particular PC to be switched on. You'll have to install some client software on each PC from which you want to use the printer , but unlike Windows printer sharing you won't have to keep a system running all the time.

The IG-4165 has a Web interface, which can be restricted to a single IP address so that other PC users can't access the administrative interface. The interface is also password protected, with a configurable timeout.

From the Web interface you can enable the DHCP server, which serves both wired and wireless clients -- you can't choose only one type of client to be allocated addresses. You can also configure MAC address control for both the wired and wireless interfaces. This allows you to prevent unauthorised clients from even connecting to the IG-4165.

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The IG-4165's firewall functionality is enabled by default, and can't be turned off entirely. Instead it takes the usual approach of allowing you to open certain ports to certain systems. You can also defined rules which open ports to machines dynamically, based on an outgoing port number. Although only one system can use this facility at a time, you don't have to configure the address in advance -- a definite advantage when using DHCP. Finally, you can also place one system only outside the firewall as a 'DMZ' host, which allows all Internet applications to work but provides no protection from attackers.

The IG-4165 achieved the highest throughput in our tests, in combination with the PC Card adapter. Although Zoom didn't supply us with a USB adapter, it does offer a rebadged version of the Orinoco USB Client, and we'd expect a similarly high level of performance from this unit. This is unlikely to affect the speed of Internet services, but if you're transferring files between your PCs, or using other networked applications -- games for example -- it will mean you get better throughput

This is a great product all round. You get high wireless throughput, wired connections, support for both dial-up and broadband Internet connections and a print server thrown in. It isn't your cheapest way of getting wireless networking, but the level of features means that you may not need any other networking devices, even if you change your Internet connection.

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