Compex NetPassage 15BA Cable/DSL Router with built-in 4-port 10/100 MBps switch and Parallel Broadband capability.
One thing I look at when doing reviews is the Manual and accessories shipped with the product. The NetPassage 15B comes with two manuals, a "Quick Install Guide" written in English, German, Russian and French, giving sufficient instruction on how to setup the router, but only for Win9X. The other one is the complete manual titled "Software User Guide" This is an 81 page manual written entirely in English. There is a fold out on the inside that gives you a rundown of what each thing on the router actually does. This manual gives very detailed instructions on how to setup this router for various Cable and DSL connections. The only downside is that all instructions are based on Win9X, there are no Windows 2000/XP or other OS specific setup instructions. There is also one diskette included that provides Firmware Recovery. This is a very good addition that I think all routers should include as it gives the user a sort of security in knowing they can feel free to flash their router with new firmware and have a fall back if something goes wrong. There was the standard power cord, router and a stand up bracket for the router in the box. Did I mention I was a little disappointed in the manual, I feel it should have at least touched on a Windows 2000... Oh well, at least the box looks pretty ;)
One other feature I really want to talk about is the Firmware upgrade process. On some routers you have a Serial port that you have to connect via serial cable to a local machine's serial port where you then telnet to it to upgrade the firmware. This was the old and hard way to do it. On some newer routers like the Linksys you could do it from any client through the Ethernet cable connected to the router. However you did have to download a flash utility from Linksys that you used to TFTP to the router with. While it was easy there were a few more steps involved to get a firmware flash done. With this router it was the easiest firmware upgrade I've EVER come across by far. First you download the firmware image file to your computer, then you login to your router, navigate to the Firmware Upgrade menu, choose browse and browse to the firmware image, then you click on Upload... When it's finished, hit the Reboot button and you're DONE! The whole process takes about 15 seconds, it's incredibly easy and I hope other router manufacturers take notice of this, because every end user likes such time saving, intuitive features.
I'd like to say this router has exceeded my expectations. The phrase "Size doesn't Matter" is very true with this little beauty. It's both sleek and slim with its nice professional look to it. The unit supports everything a Home or Office would need for sharing Internet connection and expanding your network. DHCP server/client, NAT, Firewall protection, Port Forwarding, Easy Firmware Upgrading, PPPoE, Built in 4 Port 10/100 Switch, Parallel Broadband Feature, Fast and Reliable. I have no problems recommending this router to anyone. Especially at its price point it sure does give other routers in its class some competition!
Overall only 1 star away from our highest rating of 5 stars. It was the Manual and that security issue that pushed it down one notch from the highest score here. If those things are improved upon by making a more complete user guide online and coming out with some new firmware to fix and make the security/firewall more robust then that would for sure bump this router up to 5 stars and make it one of the best routers I've reviewed.