SMC Barricade N ProMax Draft 11n Router

The SMC Barricade N ProMax Draft 11n Gigabit Broadband Router SMCWGBR14-N and the TrendNet TEW-633GR 300Mbps Wireless N Gigabit Router look practically like clones. They're based on the same U-Media design, though packaged in different-colored plastic cases. Even the user manuals look almost alike. Nevertheless, there are still some major differences between them.

Notably, the Barricade stumbled in our long-range throughput tests compared with the TrendNet, delivering only fair performance. Since both routers have 3x3 antenna arrays, we expected more from the SMC unit.

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On the plus side, the Barricade has a USB port for printer sharing, though not the useful drive sharing that the Belkin N+ Wireless Router F5D8235-4 and the D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme N Gigabit Router offer. SMC says that you can use the scanning capability on multifunction printers connected to the router, but the Web-based scanning tool is so basic that you're probably better off just walking over to your scanner. For printing, the Barricade works well, and there is a list of supported printers on the company's Web site.

This model's routing features and Web utility are well conceived, too, and come with handy setup Wizards. (They bear a striking similarity in looks and capabilities to those of the D-Link DIR-655 and the TrendNet TEW-633GR--not surprising since all three routers use Atheros Wi-Fi chipsets, and the Web configuration tools are thus based on the same Atheros toolkit.)

The Barricade looks good, albeit somewhat utilitarian. It has three external antennas and can be mounted horizontally, vertically, or on a wall, so you can easily find the best placement.

Though this router has good routing capabilities and printer-sharing feature overall, the relatively high-priced ($120, as of April 20, 2009) SMC Barricade simply doesn't stack up well against the competition.

This story, "SMC Barricade N ProMax Draft 11n Router" was originally published by PCWorld.