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Exterior and Interior Design

Netgear’s new home routers have changed externally although the overall design concept has remained the same. The DG834N has a white case with an expressly straight outline as opposed to the older models that used to have smooth lines of the case. Here, the corners are not rounded off but sharp visually and tactilely. The sides of the case are made from glossy white plastic and the other panels, except for the front one, from matte gray plastic. The front panel is a piece of translucent gray-sputtered glossy acryl with gray sputtering. It has cut-outs for the indicators and a manufacturer logo. We didn’t like the quality of manufacture, though. The router looks good, but you can feel its details wobble when you take it into your hands. The router’s stand is made from such a thin and supple plastic that it gets deformed even under small load. Another drawback of this router is that you can only put it down upright as the sticker on a side panel says:

Otherwise the router case may not be ventilated properly. This ventilation is performed by means of natural airflow. Air comes through the grid in the router’s bottom panel, becomes hot and rises up to leave the router through the holes in the top panel. It’s clear that if you lay the operating router flat, the airflow will be largely disrupted due to the lack of any holes in the side panels. If the router is positioned correctly, it is ventilated normally. It doesn’t become too hot while working.

There are indicators on the router’s front panel. Not numerous, they are designed in Netgear’s traditional way. Each indicator is an icon appropriate to the indicated function. The indicators are large enough to be visible from a distance but look somewhat dull, although not as much as to be illegible. There are a total of 8 indicators here (from left to right):

  • Power
  • ADSL connection status on the physical level
  • Indicator of successful authorization on the provider side
  • Wi-Fi module activity indicator
  • Four indicators of activity of the LAN ports

The rear panel carries all of the connectors (from left to right):

  • RJ-11 port to connect the router to your phone line
  • Four RJ-45 ports to deploy your local network
  • Power connector
  • Reset button

Where are the antenna connectors? They are in the case as you’ll see shortly.

The remaining space on the rear panel is given to router-related information, including the router’s default IP-address, and the login and password for entering the configuration menu. This is indeed helpful as you don’t have to search for this information in the manual, especially as the latter is only available in electronic format.

We were interested to see what was inside this router, its case being quite large for this device class. To take the device apart you just press on the four latches at the top or bottom of the case, releasing the appropriate side panel.

With one of the side panels removed, we can now see the router’s antennas. These are two ordinary dipolar antennas fastened on the opposite side panel. Their wires are connected directly to the WLAN module. This solution has obvious drawbacks. First, it prevents you from replacing the antennas without losing your warranty. Second, it is hard to orient such antennas in space properly. The lack of screws on the case is compensated by the screws the card is fastened to the case with. Hex slot screws are used here, so you’ll find it difficult to undo them without a special screwdriver. The card can be accessed without taking it out of the case. You can remove the other side panel to see the reverse side of the PCB.

 

The PCB is not a pretty view, by the way. Some components are installed sloppily. There are stains all over the card and traces of glue and flux. The screen on the Wi-Fi module is soldered to the main card at the corners only. The PCB seems to have been assembled at home rather than at the factory. The WLAN module resides on a separate card connected to the main one via CardBus.

It is an ordinary card that lacks the part of the case which is usually made from plastic and sticks out of the notebook. It is designed exactly like the reference card from Broadcom.

 
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