ZyXEL are hoping to offer broadband users a cheap alternative to the router they got bundled in the box with the ZyXEL P-660HW a 4 hub ADSL gateway router.
The P-660HW may be at the budget end of ZyXEL's fairly extensive range of ADSL 2+ broadband routers, but that hasn't stopped it being weak on features, far from it and the feature set looks as good as most company's bigger more pricer offerings.
You get everything you need in the box to get you going including a built-in firewall, 802.11g networking and a four-port 10/100 ethernet switch, plus a USB wireless adapter to connect either your desktop or laptop PC if they haven't already got wireless capabilities.
Admitedly we were expecting the router that came out the box to be something that was at the end of the line on a Chinese sweat shop before they went for their lunch break, however we are pleasantly surprised with the build quality. The ZyXEL P-660HW isn't by any means a flimsy piece of kit with plenty of LEDs to let you know what's going on.
The integrated firewall supports SPI (stateful packet inspection) functions, which will protect against DoS (denial-of-service) attacks.
Gamers, family workers and VoIP users can also prioritise what data takes preference over network traffic and this is all done via the routers media bandwidth management function. In practice it we set it up to give preference to VoIP calls and no matter what we then loaded the router with - two computers and an Xbox live session, it meant that our VoIP calls got through without affecting the service.
Setup is as easy as either installing the software on your PC to do it all for you or simply plugging in the router to a spare network port and following some on-screen menus via the router itself - handy for Mac users as the software on the disc isn't Mac compatible - once connected you're online and that's it.
The P-660HW is a very cost-effective way of getting a wireless network up and running with the minimum of fuss.
The media management function does give you some say over how your network performs and the in-built firewall should protect you from virus attacks.
Compared to Linksys, when it comes to more advanced features like setting up wireless security options, the ZyXEL does get a bit bogged down in confusing technical jargon, but not overly so not to recommend this as a good viable option for improving how you get online