PROS / The ZyXEL Wireless N-lite enables telecommuters to access corporate Virtual Private Networks.
CONS / There is no provision for guest networking.
VERDICT / The ZyXEL is an affordable home wireless router and it comes with a two-year warranty.
The ZyXEL Wireless N-lite Home Router is one of the feature-rich wireless routers with a small footprint. Wi-Fi client devices from previous generations (802.11b or g) will connect because 802.11n is backward compatible.
The ZyXEL adheres to the IEEE 802.11n single-stream specifications, which means that it has a theoretical data throughput rate of 150Mbps. It has Fast Ethernet ports: one for the internet connection and four for the local area network. Because it lacks the fastest version of 802.11n and does not employ Gigabit Ethernet ports, management of the available bandwidth is essential. Therefore in order to manage multimedia and prioritize traffic to ensure performance of critical applications, the product employs WMM QoS (Wi-Fi Multimedia Quality of Service). WMM QoS gives priority to multimedia applications at the expense of applications that are not sensitive to latency.
The security feature set is rich, even though it lacks guest networking. Media Access Control address filtering stops unwanted computers from connecting via Wi-Fi. Parents can create a list of websites that children cannot reach from inside of the firewall. The firewall itself hides the local area network client-IP addresses behind a single network-IP address using Network Address Translation. The firewall also includes Stateful Packet Inspection to examine network traffic for any signs that a hacker might be the source. Wireless security is enhanced by various encryption methods: Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) to support previous-generation clients and Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA and WPA2) to provide state-of-the-art encryption that has yet to be broken.
For telecommuters who need to create secure private networks with corporate servers via the public internet, this router allows Virtual Private Network clients behind the firewall to reach remote networks. ZyXEL’s implementation of VPN pass through supports Internet Protocol security (IPsec, the one championed by Cisco Systems) as well as Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP, Microsoft’s VPN solution).
Included with the product is an installation guide with setup instructions printed in color. A Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button conveniently establishes encryption for WPS-capable clients.
During the two-year warranty period, technical support by telephone is free, which is quite a competitive differentiator. Technical guidelines and troubleshooting articles are available in an online knowledge base.
The ZyXEL offers a better than average warranty. If you are in the market for one of the affordable home wireless routers, especially if you could use the VPN pass-through capability in order to telecommute to work, there is nothing wrong with this router if you can do without guest networking.