When someone says Netgear, the first thing that comes to mind is an ugly pearl white router with a flimsy-feeling aerial and basic functionality. I’m happy to report the WNR3500L is none of these things. But does that make it any good?

Well, the looks are a major plus, a sleek glossy black finish looks smooth and refined, while the square shape and absence of an external aerial makes sure this is a router you’d be proud of displaying.

Looks aside, all we really want from a router is performance and functionality, and this NETGEAR seems almost to define that. Wireless N support, 4 gigabit LAN ports, and a WAN port for connection to the modem are all you would expect from a mid-range router in this category. However the WNR3500L has a trick or two up its sleeve. The first is a USB 2.0 port that allows you to plug an external hard drive into the router, turning it into a NAS that any PC on the network can access as storage. While the USB 2.0 speeds are slightly limiting, it’s a good idea which got plenty of use during the time we had the WNR3500L for review.  The other handy feature is the “Press ‘N Connect” button. Pressing this allows the router to setup and connect to wireless devices in range and despite some early trouble, it worked as stated.

The other huge benefit of the WNR3500L is that it runs on the OpenRouter open source firmware, which as routers running on DDWRT firmware have proven, adds a wealth of functionality to power users. The other plus side is, as the OpenRouter community grows, the WNR3500L router will gain new features and have a far greater support base than NETGEAR alone.

All in all then, a good investment if you already have a modem and plan on extending your networks functionality with wireless N and Gigabit capability, not to mention a NAS.

Bottom line: Small and stylish, offering ease of operation for the novice, and plenty of features for the power user. 9/10.

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