by Rebecca Rohan
Secure Cable/DSL Router NBG800
Don’t let the word “router” scare you — it’s a neat little box that does wonders for your connectivity budget, as everyone in the office shares a single Cable modem or DSL account. With enough ports, up to 253 users can share the bandwidth, but you’ll want to cap that number to keep congestion down.
The BroadGuard Secure Cable/ DSL Router is a 10 by 7 by 1.6-inch, gray box with a shiny black face and subtle indicator lights. The back of the unit has ports for four RJ-45 connections, which allows users to plug in four PCs or a combination of PCs and network hubs. The package includes a power adapter, straight-through cable, and cross-over cable, so all you have to supply are one or more PCs with Ethernet cards and sufficient CAT 5 cables to connect each PC or hub to the unit.
Set up is astonishingly simple. There is no software to install — users simply connect the power cord and cables. Then type a supplied IP address into the Web browser. A page appears to tell users how to finish configuration on that computer, and it automatically assigns identities to all connected users. If you have only network cards and no network hub, the BroadGuard will act as your Ethernet hub, so one PC can open programs or copy files from another. The BroadGuard includes configurable security settings (via the browser) that other products don’t. The bottom line: The BroadGuard is the best and most straightforward broadband-sharing device we’ve seen.
PROS: Multiple users share one broadband (cable modem or DSL) account; easy set up; security features, acts as a 10/100 network hub if desired
CONS: We found no cons — best example of the product category we’ve reviewed