Sitting at the budget end of the market, the ZyXEL P-660HW-T1-V3 is a no-frills router in every sense of the word. Its support for 802.11g wireless standards, for starters, puts it far behind the latest products toting 802.11n functionality – while the cheap feel of the hardware itself leaves you in little doubt that you’re not at the luxury end of the market.
ZyXEL has positioned this unit as an entry-level product, but its price tag is certainly compelling. You can pick the 660HW-T1-V3 up for under £20. We were intrigued to see just what kind of low-cost networking you could expect for that.
Plain and simple
ZyXEL should be commended for its simple, to-the-point packaging. In the box for the P-660HW-T1-V3 is a printed manual, a CD, a CAT-5 cable, a phone cable, the product and its power supply. The manual is easy to follow, and thoughtfully includes default configuration log-in details on the front. If you still find things tricky, the CD features a video that makes things clearer still.
Not that there’s much to get stuck on here. As is the norm, you connect the router up to the power, hook the CAT-5 cable up to a spare port on your computer, wire your Internet in through the phone cable (this is an ADSL2+ device, cable Internet is not supported) and run the configuration CD. This is a breeze, and helps you get your network set up in fairly quick time.
It doesn’t take much bother to set up the security features of the unit, either. WPA2, WPA2-PSK and WPA-PSK are all supported. More recent units offer more extensive security features – but at this price, we can hardly complain.
Features and function
That said, the 660HW-T1-V3 still has features of note. While it might not offer all the bells and whistles of the latest premium products, it nonetheless offers options to prioritise different types of traffic, and includes a perfectly capable integrated firewall.
You do pay a performance penalty, of course, for choosing an 802.11g router over an 802.11n device (likewise, this unit’s four wired network connections don’t offer the latest gigabit networking speeds). But for a small-scale home network, it’s fine. The range is fine for a small home, and while it isn’t up to pumping large quantities of high-bandwidth media around a network, for file sharing and Internet purposes, ZyXEL’s device is sound.
Design-wise, the ZyXEL is free of frills, but it does its job, and does it without fuss. An extra tenner might get you into the range of 802.11n equipment – but if money really is tight, you’ll easily get £20 of value out of the P-660HW-T1-V3.