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Firmware and Interface

The previous router from ASUS we tested in our labs had one weakness, rather shabbily made firmware. After we had used the AM604g for some time and read users’ reports at related Web forums, particularly at the ASUS tech support forum, we realized this router had not quite finalized firmware as well. We can’t say it’s totally awful, yet there are some very disappointing things indeed.

The router’s factory firmware has some limitations and defects that can provoke certain problems, sometimes rather serious problems. The four most frequent ones are the following. First, if you enable the logging feature, the router will noticeably slow down after a while or even hang up altogether. Second, there is poor support of multiple PVCs together with traffic forwarding from certain virtual channels to certain router ports. This produced problems when you were trying to use the Internet simultaneously with, say, network TV supplied by your ISP. Third, the router does not support special characters (:, @, etc) in the login field although such characters are employed by some ISPs. And finally, last but not least, you cannot set up the MTU value manually in the router’s settings. Users whose ISPs employ an MTU value other than is set by default in the AM604g suffer from that most. The MTU value can be changed via Telnet, but only until the next router reboot. Some users have also reported a quick weakening of Wi-Fi signal but there have been few such complains and perhaps that was just one defective product batch. Talking about defective batches, an early batch of the router had one hidden error. The physical logical numbers of the LAN ports were confused and, roughly speaking, you had to plug the cable into Port 1 to work with the fourth logical interface.

The latest released firmware solves all the mentioned problems except for the fourth one. It means the AM604g can still work with many ISPs in bridge mode only. The latest firmware version can be downloaded from here: http://www.asus.ru/ftp/spk/adsl/AM604G_306020100.dat. The only confusing thing about this firmware is that it is not listed in download sections of ASUS’ official websites, so its status is not yet quite clear.

Now that it’s all more or less clear about the firmware, it’s time to check out the common method to configure the router, its web interface. It is designed in the AM604g as a web-page with two frames:

The central frame contains settings and messages. The left frame contains a list of pages with settings designed like a directory tree with a max depth of 4 levels. The interface of the pages resembles a settings screen of some Windows program. Seemingly handy, this interface is not exactly user-friendly. The settings are grouped rather illogically and you often have to click on buttons to reach pages that are not shown in the settings tree. In other words, you have to search for the necessary option in several places. We don’t find this web interface convenient in comparison with traditional interfaces that are designed like a typical web-page.

The integrated help system is poor, too. To be more exact, it is missing. The brief remarks at the beginning of each page just can’t be regarded as a normal help system. So, it is even hard to tell at first whether the router’s abundance of setup options is good or bad.

Well, surely it’s good. But a full description of all the settings occupies about 40 pages in the user manual, so we’ll just tell you what settings are stored where. There are about 50 pages in the web interface (not counting hidden pages in), so we’ll just give you a brief description of folders that contain pages with settings and of some particular pages, too. For you to get your bearings, here is the full tree of settings:

Now, let’s see what exactly setup options we have here.

 
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