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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Netgear DGN2200: Don't buy

Netgear DGN2200 review: Don't buy. Zero stars out of Five.

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I bought a Netgear DGN2200 (from Amazon) to replace the DG834Gv4 which appeared to have failed (all lights coming on).

As I'm talking about two devices here with gobbledegook codenames, I'll highlight them differently in different colours. So the new (bad) one is the DGN2200, and the old (good) one is the DG834Gv4.

(As it turned out later, the DG834Gv4 hadn't failed; only the power supply had expired. By pinching the power supply from my previous-previous router (DG834Gv2), which was also 12V 1A with the same pinout, I was able to get the DG834Gv4 going again.)

Back to the DGN2200, it is a case of: Nice hardware, shame about the firmware. The DGN2200, as offered in its current form, is a load of rubbish. In a couple of years, assuming the firmware gets fixed, it could be a good little router. But today, don't touch it with a bargepole

The DGN2200 seems to incorporate a perfectly decent DSL modem. On my somewhat lengthy telephone line, I get a DSL synch rate which is in the same ball park as the best I have seen.

Also the DGN2200 seems to incorporate perfectly decent wireless hardware. As far as I could tell, all my kit seemed to connect up to it easily and maintained a reliable connection.

The problem, and it's a biggy, is the network software:

If I try to access an HTTPS website on a non-standard TCP port number, then I find that it takes 5 or 6 attempts to connect. Now, this might look like simple packet loss, or perhaps the MTU is too large. Well, sorry, no, for several reasons:

  1. If I do swap test with the old DG834Gv4 router, the DGN2200 fails on this point whereas the DG834Gv4 doesn't. The DG834Gv4 connects first time, every time.

  2. I can run a simultaneous ping which shows 0 out of 100 packet loss. Also I can run a simultaneous SSH session which is consistently snappy and responsive. So why do ping and other services work reliably but HTTPS (on a non-standard port number) doesn't?

  3. I can take the MTU down to 1400 or 1350 and there is no difference. In any case, why does the DG834Gv4 work fine when the DGN2200 fails miserably?

I tried monitoring the HTTPS packets on the server side using tcpdump. When the problem is manifesting, the server does not see any initial packet arriving. So the server has no cause to respond. The packet is simply not arriving, and everything points to the packet being lost by the DGN2200.

More problems: If I try to set up an OpenVPN connection to a server listening on UDP port 1195, it takes 5 or 6 attempts before it connects. Packet loss or MTU? Nope, for the same reasons as the first problem. Again, the DG834Gv4 connects first time, every time.

I tried raising support requests through Netgear, but we were moving at a snail's pace, and besides I now have the old router working again.

So I have raised an RMA through Amazon and the DGN2200 is going back. Update 2010-11-04: Amazon have now issued a full refund for the unit.

In addition, I have advised Netgear that I would be more than happy to consider assisting them on a consultative basis.

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4 comments:

  1. nice review... now the https problem is fixed via firmware upgrade... rest still persists...

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  2. Firmware upgrade? Can you give me a URL?

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  3. Firmware available at
    http://support.netgear.com/app/products/model/a_id/13012

    Under 'Product Quick Links'

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  4. @Psynewaves: That's great, thanks. I can see an updated firmware (v1.0.0.36) listed. Looking at the list of bugs fixed in this update, I can see nothing which would affect the issues I saw with this router. I'd be happy to re-test using the updated firmware ... if anyone would care to send me a unit to test. Until then my recommendation of "Don't buy" stands. (By The Way, if anyone from Netgear reads this, you may be interested to know that this is the *most popular page on this blog*...)

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