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Who knew phone service could kick this much ass?
Month Reviewed: March 2005
Verdict: 9 Kickass
A bumpy setup notwithstanding, we’re unabashed fans of the Linksys WRT54GP2A-AT. It’s not only a spanking-good Wi-Fi router, but an outstanding Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone adapter as well. For its part, VoIP offers access to unlimited nationwide phone calls and a bevy of features typically found only in advanced corporate phone systems (e-mail notification of new voice messages, for example).
Integrating the VoIP adapter and router delivers much better phone service than a stand-alone telephone adapter could ever provide. Because the router serves as a traffic cop for all network activity coming into or going out of your home, it can give priority to time-critical transmissions—like VoIP phone calls. This function, called Quality of Service, allows for crystal-clear conversations, even when your Internet connection is under an extremely heavy load. With other VoIP gear we’ve tested, echoes, static, and even broken connections were common, especially when we uploaded large files to the Internet and talked simultaneously. We had no such problems with this adapter.
Because the WRT54GP2A is tied to AT&T’s VoIP service, AT&T locks certain aspects of the router’s firmware, which you might miss. For example, you can’t disable the integrated firewall or manually control Quality of Service settings. When we began testing, a missing setting kept us from seeing our home server, but an automatically delivered firmware update fixed that problem.
As a router, the WRT54GP2A performs admirably, besting nearly every other stock 802.11g router we’ve tested in our file transfer and range tests. The Linksys router transferred our 724MB MPEG4 test file in a little less than four minutes. In our range test, we managed to get just more than 50 feet from the router while maintaining full signal strength.
After experiencing the reliability and clarity afforded by a VoIP adapter/router combo, we’ll never consider buying a stand-alone VoIP adapter again. --Will Smith
+ VoIP: It’s as fast as any standard 802.11g router we’ve tested, and the VoIP functionality rocks!
- Voight: AT&T limits some advanced functionality present in other routers, including some firewall and Quality of Service controls.