Friday, February 14, 2014

I hate SMC routers

Didn't you know that the "S" in SMC means 5hitty? It really does... and in the case of the SMCWBR14-N4, there is a smaller model they (the cable companies) give to end users called the "SMCWBR14S-N4" note the extra "S", guess what that means... that's right, 5hittier... if it were possible.  This of course is all unfounded and extremely biased to the max, just putting my two sense in and all that.

Security:  what kind of router defaults to unsecured???  Bad ones... I've never owned a good initially unsecured router. All the cisco compliant routers I've used always are at least PSK secured by default and require more than 0-1 braincells to install. Furthermore, not being able to change the administrator user's name also cries out predictability. Of course the first user name anyone is going to try on a router is going to be "admin".  Even if I change my password, all it takes is a power outage while I’m away to reset it (sometimes).  This is not good.

Usability: features named "Automatic" are stupid. It's like saying "We are not going to tell  you how we are doing this, but don’t worry, it'll work."  There is no such thing as a fail safe setting like "Automatic". Most Automatic settings end up either confusing the user, robbing them of knowledge they should know, and causes other problems. Case in point, the so called "Automatic" channel selection feature. If channels overlap a little due to the 20/40 difference, then the router goes to another channel that is clear, which causes a dropout. If you live in a densely populated area like I do, you get dropouts ALL THE TIME due to this. The endpoint receiver goes nuts too trying to scan for your router, often coming up with an empty or an invalid list--I knew someone who had problems and it turned out because of this feature he had been using his neighbours connection the whole time not knowing it!! This is not good.

Durability: The antenna, unlike the 3-tiered less 5hittier father model, is almost worthless.. it twists around with a small plastic pin that is supposed to be a stopper, which does not work if you have cats or kids that bump things a lot. Even I do when cleaning the thing, eventually it breaks (about 6 months) and you have to replace it or the entire unit if you're leasing it from a provider.

Reliability: Above should say it, and the firmware updates are old, and the manual is not well written. In contrast, it does have a nice web interface but I hate the fact that I cant put it on another port so I can test my web servers locally without using an IP spoofer (or localhost, which is not a reliable way to test it). So, avoid it. It isn't cisco compliant which means no PXE unless you have a dedicated DNS server (like linux or windows server), so no PXE booting / installing for you if you got this and no servers!! 

Conclusion: In short, the 14S is a crappy, cut-down, downright bad router. If you are a new comcast customer and get a white router, be wary, and if you see this number on it, send it back and tell 'em  you want a Netgear Cisco certified router, not some crappy fly by night router made by a hamburger joint.

Have fun and don't slip on the ice... comcast is lower case on purpose! :)