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Written by Carl 'lowlight' Nelson [07.25.00]
***Please read Part 1 if you haven't yet.***
Manufactured by: ZyXEL, Umax, Netgear, Linksys, D-Link, Nexland, and MacSense
Suggested Retail Price Price: Varies - $100-200
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Macsense XRouter PRO MIH-130

A relatively new product, this one may also be harder for you to find... I did find it on Buy.com for about $170, which puts it right in the middle of the 4 port routers, above the Linksys, but below the Umax and Nexland.

The XRouter Pro is basically a step up from their last Cable/xDSL router, the MIH-120.  This version features a 4 port 10/100 SWITCHING hub.  Awesome indeed.  It also features a crossover switch, so you can connect it to a hub without requiring a crossover cable.

1. Ease of Installation

Have we seen this screen before? Well, kinda... It is a near exact replica of the main setup screen of both the Umax UGate 3000 and the Linksys BEFSR series routers.  Is this a good thing? Sure! It is about as easy as it gets to set up your connection... Enter your userid if you are a DHCP client, and select "Get an IP address automatically".  Hit enter, and you're done! There is also PPPoE support on another page.

Macsense normally makes products that are specifically used for Mac PC's.  This just shows you that any router with html configuration will work with any OS, including MacOS and Linux; basically everything with a 4.x and above web browser.

2. Value

At $170 this is the right in the middle of the routers with more than one port.  It is also one of the very few that use a 10/100 switching hub, as opposed to a basic hub.  This probably drives the price up a bit, but as you'll see, companies like Linksys are offering very similar products for a slightly lower price.

The instructions on the CD were probably the best of the bunch though; I am sure an absolute newbie will have their router up and running in no time with the aid of these instructions.

As usual, one cable is included.  No crossover cables are needed though, since there is a built-in crossover switch.  If you want to connect this router to another hub, just use any Ethernet cable, and flick the switch; no need to make your own crossover cable, or buy any...

3. Virtual Server Setup

The XRouter had one of the better html-based Virtual Server setup screens.  They do all the good things, such as listing the well-known ports, and they even allow you to specify which network protocol to use! Bonus!

4. Flash Upgrading

This uses a similar system to the Linksys and Nexland: download the firmware, along with an approximately 1 mb TFTP client, install the client, and upgrade the firmware.  While this is easier than using a serial cable for upgrading, it still gets easier.  Some of the other routers allow you to upgrade the firmware using your html browser, in another setup screen.

5. Taste Test

  • Ease of Installation: A No software required; just fire up the ol' browser!
  • Value: B Thanks Macsense for caring enough about your product, and telling us about the deals around.  The best price we found was $170, which is pretty good! Still more than the Linksys, but I know some of you avoid Linksys... Macsense offers a good alternative.  Hey you may just want a router that matches your shiny new G4 box! 
  • Virtual Server Setup: B Listing the well-known ports is pretty common now, but allowing the setting of protocol isn't quite yet.  Well done, Macsense!
  • Flash Upgrading: C+ No serial cable required, but you still need to install software.

Overall: B / 80% (Not scaled to out normal grading system)

    

Next: Linksys BEFSR41

Cable/xDSL Router Shootout Part 2 Table of Contents:

Page 1: Introduction
Page 2: Nexland ISB2LAN-H4
Page 3: MacSense XRouter PRO MIH-130
Page 4: Linksys BEFSR41
Page 5: Security!
Page 6: ZyXEL and Netgear: Twin Brothers?
Page 7: Features/Comparative Matrix/Conclusion

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