In the GCN Lab, we don't often find wireless routers that stand out from the pack. The NetPassage 26G from Compex Inc. of Anaheim, Calif., however, is a bit different.
First off, it works as you would expect a wireless router to work. It's compatible with IEEE 802.11b and 802.11g wireless devices and features four 10/100 Ethernet ports and a single antenna for wireless networking.
The LEDs, which are green for a 100-Mbps connection and amber for a 10-Mbps connection, are visible both in the front and on top of the unit, so you can sit it on a table or in a rack, or mount it on the wall with equal functionality.
But the amazing thing about the NetPassage is the inclusion of two USB ports. USB ports on a router? We were confused as well.
The USB ports actually add a lot of functionality to the hub. You can use it as a print server and it also supports a webcam. So you could use your wireless router as a webcam server, something we have not even considered as a product type before.
But it works well. We connected a camera to the router and were then able to access and configure them wirelessly using a standard notebook PC. This would be a really nice low-end security device, a makeshift teleconference support router or, just for fun, a server on which to set up a webcam around your office or home.
Probably its more practical use is as a print server. Setting up a networked printer is easy. You just plug it into a USB port and turn the print server on in the Web administration application. Then you simply add the printer to the PC you want to work with. This worked with both PC and Mac systems.
For a wireless router with a little extra oomph, the NetPassage 26G adds a touch of innovation to a rather standard playing field.
John Breeden II directs the GCN Lab. Follow him on Twitter: @GCNLabGuys.