Netgear N300 Travel Router and Range Extender (PR2000) Review
Cheap as (silicon) chips
IntroductionBanishing those WiFi black spots and getting that essential network and internet access to all areas of the household is becoming increasingly important in today's technology filled home. Devices such as TVs, PCs, Music Streamers and Blu-ray players just won't be happy or fulfilled unless you can supply them with a fast network and internet connection. There are many ways of solving this problem, from the basic but untidy solution which involves having Ethernet cables everywhere or taking the trusty drill to a few walls, to more refined solutions such as Powerline Adaptors or additional wireless routers or extenders.
Another issue is wireless access for your devices when you are away from home such as staying in a hotel, B&B or a friend's house, where your room may just be slightly too far away for the wireless signal to give a decent speed. Which leads us to our current review item, the longer titled than its actual size, N300 Netgear Trek Travel Router and Range Extender PR2000. This handy little device retailing at under £30 offers a simple and easy way of connecting to Public Hotspots, extending the range of the current WiFi, be that at home or away, and thanks to two Ethernet ports, it can also work as a simple router or WiFi bridge. Let's see how it fares...
Design and ConnectionsThe Netgear Trek PR2000 is a simple looking device, finished in all black with a flip up antenna exposing the status LEDs, it is basic but functional in its design. It is fairly compact too with a size that is not much bigger than an Apple TV for example, measuring just 86.5mm square by 32mm thick and weighing just 161g. It does stick out quite far from the wall though, about 100mm when plugged in due to the plug being on the end of the device rather than coming out of the side, so if it's in a well used but tight area you could have issues with walking into it.
Once the WiFi antenna has been rotated to the top, we find the four LED status lights. Starting from the top we have the Power LED, Internet LED for when the device has been successfully connected, WiFi LED to show if a wireless or wired device is connected and finally the USB light to show when a USB drive is connected. To the bottom of the device we find the USB port which can be used in four different ways. Firstly, adding a great level of convenience if you are completely mobile, is the option to power the device via a laptop or similar to save plugging it into the wall. The USB port can also be used as a mobile phone charger and also to connect a USB printer or hard drive.
Also to the bottom we find the reset button and the two 10/100 Ethernet ports. In the standard wireless mode both ports function as standard LAN ports, but in the Wired mode where the device can be connected to a DSL or cable modem, one changes to an Internet port. Lastly, at the top we find the mode switch to change between the powered off, wireless and wired modes.
Setup and FeaturesThe various networking manufacturers certainly seem to have got their installation and setup routines down to a tee. We've reviewed many products such as Powerline Adaptors, Routers and Wireless Extenders here at AVForums and the majority of the time we've found the installation takes barely a couple of minutes with a setup that literally anyone could manage. This is again the case here with the Netgear Trek. There are four main ways of using this little gadget. It can give you a fully secure and private WiFi connection when using a Public Hotspot Zone, it can act as a WiFi range extender, as a simple wired router and lastly as a WiFi Bridge. The installation basically involves plugging it into the wall (or via a USB cable to a laptop for example) and then turning it on.
The setup is similar across all of the four main uses and is as simple as connecting your device to it either Wired or Wireless, connecting to the settings screen and choosing how you want the device to work. The setup took under a minute to complete and was very easy to follow regardless of which of the four main uses you choose to go for. We did have a temporary issue to start with in that we could not get it setup via our iPad, it connected to the Netgear Trek fine but after configuring the settings the final button for accepting the new settings did nothing. This did cure itself eventually, possibly a compatibility issue somewhere along the line.
Familiar to many users of Netgear's networking products is the Netgear Genie interface. This is a very well laid out and simple to use interface giving quick access to all the available features and configurations. The Genie interface on the Netgear Trek has all the options you would expect to see with a Router, including the ReadyShare options for configuring the USB printer access or for accessing files stored on a connected USB hard drive. Netgear Genie is also available as an app for both iOS and Android devices and whilst being a much more trimmed down version it does offer quick access to various options such as the wireless settings, parental controls and again the ReadyShare for accessing files on the USB hard drive.
It also includes My Media which allows playback of music, video or photo files stored on devices connected to the network, providing they have allowed access and are stored in the correct location, it doesn't scan the hard drive for example to find any media files. Moving onto the last feature, the USB charging, this worked perfectly with our iPhone, but would not charge our iPad. We don't have any Android devices to hand so could not test if it works correctly with these.
Performance and TestingOur testing is carried out in a standard 4 bed detached house. The router is a BT HomeHub5 (located on the ground floor), connected via Gigabit Ethernet to a PC at one end, then to a laptop via Wireless to the Netgear Trek at the other end. We use a simple program called LANSpeedTest by Totusoft which is a basic but powerful tool for measuring Local Area Network (LAN) speeds. It does this by building a file in memory, then transfers it both ways (without the effects of Windows file caching) while keeping track of the time, and then does the calculations for you. The LANSpeedTest program gives the results of transferring files from our main PC to the Laptop via the wireless and wired connections.
To get a baseline we carried out the three tests shown below using the LANSpeedTest program in an upstairs location which is on the fringes of the existing wireless signal. Firstly connected to our main router's wireless, then using the Netgear Trek's wireless and finally connected to one of the Trek's Ethernet ports.
Our tests are as follows:
1. 1000 x 1MB files successively transferred.
2. 2 x 1GB files successively transferred.
3. 1000 x 10KB files successively transferred.
The test results above show the low performance from the Netgear Trek on the wireless tests, coming in worse than our existing router in all but one result. On the wired side the results were much more encouraging suggesting that if you planned to use this device as a Wireless bridge, which is connected wirelessly to your main router and your devices are then connected by Ethernet cable to the Trek the performance would be acceptable. Whilst not fantastic results, for a device with an SRP of under £30 and available currently for under £20 if you shop around, we weren't expecting the results to set the world on fire so can't really be too critical here.
We also planned to carry out a basic test using our iPad and the Speedtest app, in the same location as our tests above on the existing wireless and then the Netgear Trek's wireless. Annoyingly the wireless connection to the Netgear Trek from both our iPhone and iPad would drop as soon as we tried to run the test. The connection would also drop frequently when we tried to use it with anything else such as YouTube for example. We upgraded to the latest firmware on the Trek and also changed the wireless channel after finding a free channel using the excellent inSSIDer software but unfortunately the problem still occurred. Not very good for a 'Travel' device that you are quite likely to use with a phone or tablet.
- Very, very cheap
- Easy to install and setup
- Handy and convenient
- Great travel gadget
- Slow wireless speeds
- Constantly dropping connection with iOS devices
Netgear N300 Travel Router and Range Extender (PR2000) ReviewAvailable for less than £20 the Netgear Trek (PR2000) N300 Travel Router and Range Extender looked to be a very promising little gadget on paper. Offering a simple solution for extending your wireless range even in a public hotspot or simply using as a wireless bridge or travel router it looked to tick all the boxes, but overall we had very mixed results and found a few flaws too.
The installation and setup is as we now demand from these types of products with very simple to follow instructions and within just one minute the device was fully up and running. The four main operating modes, connecting securely to a wireless network in a Public Hotspot Zone, a WiFi range extender, a simple wired router and as a WiFi Bridge all worked without issue, save for some initial gripes when trying to set it up with an iPad. The Netgear Genie interface, both browser based and via the free App, offers easy access to all the settings you would require including configuring the ReadyShare access for a USB connected hard drive or printer for example. So far so good.
The negatives came with our wireless test results. We found via our laptop test the results were worse than our existing connection, whilst the connection was solid and we had a full 5 bar signal, the lower speeds were disappointing. We also had huge trouble keeping a locked connection on both our iPad and iPhone causing any tests with SpeedTest to fail and even using YouTube the connection would drop multiple times. Considering this is the most likely use for this device, the connection problems with these iOS devices is a big issue.
Better were the wired tests which gave speed results in excess of our internet connection (42Mbps) and whilst not setting the world alight with a peak of 58Mbps does suggest a device that could comfortably be used for streaming HD video from the likes of Netflix or Amazon or even HD movies to your Home Cinema System, although if multiple HD streams are required the limitations of this device may come into play.
It's difficult to be too critical when this handy little device currently costs less than £20, is very easy to setup and use, offers many convenient features, extends any wireless signal, includes the usual Netgear features such as USB printer or HDD access and even offers mobile phone charging via the USB port. We could forgive the slightly poor wireless speeds due to the incredibly cheap cost but the dropped connection issues with our iOS devices knocks a point off the score. We do really like this handy little gadget and for a travel device that may not be used every day it comes up trumps but due to the iOS issue, it just misses out on an award.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £29.99
Ease of Use9
Value for Money9
Our Review Ethos
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