On my Linksys page, you’ll find a this small comment:
This information was collected mainly because it relates directly or indirectly to the BEFW11S4 router I already have. If however, Linksys were to send me some free hardware, I’d glady review it and add to this information. Wink.. wink… nudge… nudge…
Surprisingly, Nexland, a company later bought by Symantec, actually sent me a router to review. It replaced my BEFW11S4 up until I recently switched back to a Linksys WRT54G.
Note that the information on this page is from August, 2003. Events after this time are not taken into account.
The Linksys BEFW11S4 has a built in Prism chipset which is driven by two antennas. The Nexland Wavebase has a standard PCMCIA slot which accepts a Lucent Wavelan card. Because of this the Linksys has the advantage in terms of signal strength and range. In my environment, however, both functioned more than adequately. I do have a Lucent WaveLan antenna somewhere, which I intend to connect to the WaveBase for some added signal strength.
In this category, the Nexland wins hands down. Using QCheck from NetIQ, I did a standard UDP streaming test. The Linksys has a known deficiency in this area. Eventually, the Linksys will lock and require a reset. The WaveBase handled the test with ease.
The same problem that plagues the Linksys routerÃ¢’s ability to handle large quantities of UDP traffic pertains to UDP traffic coming from outside the router. In fact, a simple port-scan from DSLReports.com has been known to crash my Linksys on a consistent basis. Again, this was not a problem with the Nexland, which handed the port-scan with flying colors.
One of my long standing problems with the Linksys router its ‘disallow list’ for MAC addresses. An ‘allow list’Â is an accepted way of keeping unwanted users off a wireless network. The Nexland has a group security feature which allows you to set different permissions for different MAC addresses and IP ranges. This feature also allows you also block individual ports for specific machines.
There are many features that the Nexland gives you that are just plain unavailable in the Linksys router. For example, the Wavebase has a dynamic DNS client, which works for both Nexland’s subscriber services, as well as standard Dynamic DNS services such as dyndns.org. When your lease expires and your IP changes, the router automatically updates your dynamic DNS entry.
The Nexland also sports a unique “backup connection” feature. In the event that your broadband connection goes down, you can connect an external analog ISDN modem and the router will dial out for a connection.
The Nexland router allows multi-link PPPoE and supports a proprietary IPSec technology for an unlimited number of IPSec connections. The router also allows you legislate which IP addresses may upgrade the firmware (if any), unlike the Linksys which only allows remote upgrade for all or none.
You can also reserve DHCP addresses for specific MAC addresses, effectively giving you a static IP for your hosts without having to hard code the settings into your individual machines. All of the other features you find in the Linksys unit are available in the Nexland as well, including port forwarding, port triggering, DMZ, and logging, although under different names.
Other than the range and signal strength, there is one other area in which the Linksys excels, and that is price. The Nexland is almost double the price according to their website, at about $400.00.
The question becomes, are the extra features worth the extra price? For the power user, I feel the answer is an undoubted ‘yes’. However, for the average home user, a the Linksys provides the essential features at a reasonable price.
Frequently Asked Questions
I get some pretty common questions about the Nexland Wavebase Router. This is my attempt to synthesize the answers in one place. Also, I take this as an opportunity to compare the Linksys and Nexland routers.Can I use both DHCP and port forwarding simultaneously?
Yes, but this feature is not supported. DHCP may resassign the IP address at any time, making your forwarding rule invalid.
The Wavebase supports static IP’s through DHCP. Set up host DHCP rule before setting up your port forwarding. This will insure that the DHCP server always assigns the same IP to your target machine.
Can I lock out all MAC addresses except the ones I specify?
As of the time of writing this, the Linksys does not support this feature.
The Wavebase router does support access lists of this type.
Can I use Orinoco products with my router?
Yes, in fact, some have found superior performance with Orinoco client cards.
Yes, in fact, the Wavebase uses an Orinoco card to provide wireless access.
I’m having trouble accessing HTTPS:// sites over the wireless leg with WEP enabled. Why?
This seems to be a known issue with the Linksys router. I’ve only heard it happening with Orinoco products, but this has not been confirmed.
I have not experienced this problem with the Wavebase.
Is it possible to hack the router’s firmware to support Dynamic DNS? Will you do it for me?
Umm… no. I did dissassemble the BEFW11S4 firmware once, but it got me nowhere.
It isn’t necessary, this feature is supported.
Can you disable SSID broadcasts on the wireless network?
Sadly, this isn’t an option. WEP is really the only option for securing your network.
As far as I can tell, there is no option to do this. However, you can use a MAC address security rule to prevent unwanted users from accessing your network.
Is uPnP supported?
There are some beta firmware updates available that support uPnP. However, none have been stable enough that I myself have wanted to test them. Do so at your own disgression.
Nexland is working on uPnP, but it is not yet available. They are determining what subset of uPnP functionality they’d like to implement for the best performance and security.