Well, I’ve had enough. I’ve got a stack of routers in my little home network area, and none of them performs like I want.

Currently, my home network serves approximately 12 devices (computers and computer-like appliances), and provides telephone service via Vonage VoIP. Not all of the devices are used simultaneously, and not all of them are in locations convenient to the router. I have always-on needs for the telephone and for at least two of the connected PCs, which serve files and function as my desktop when I’m connected remotely. I often find myself at less able and lower powered computers than my home PC, so using Remote Desktop to access my home desktop is quite handy.

Somewhere on the network there is a printer, which I have no intent of attaching to any specific PC, whether it’s on continuously or not.

The trouble is that no router I’ve found has the reliability and features that I need. Perhaps I need a combination of devices to build me network. But I’m pretty frustrated with what I have now.

One thing that routers do that drive me nuts is the constant rebooting for any change in settings. Is it not possible to at least retain all setting changes from all pages of the administrative console until a reboot is required? If they’re going to spread all of the changes I want onto different pages, that’s the least they could do.

Here’s a prime example of stupid design: One of these routers has MAC address filtering capabilities, which I like to use. There is a convenience feature that allows you to select devices that are already attached to your network for inclusion in the “allow only” filters. Unfortunately, you must turn off the filtering to allow access to the console that displays the connected MAC list. This requires a reboot. And after you have selected the new MAC addresses you want to allow, you need to reboot again. And each reboot takes about 30 seconds, and takes down the phone system along with it. What’s all this about?

The Linksys router I have (a WRT54GP2) provides wireless support, but it doesn’t even reach into the next room. Perhaps there is interference from all of the other networking and computer equipment. The wireless access is the XBox’s only method of connection, since I’ve given up on running network wire into that corner. It is constantly dropping connection. Signal strength on my notebook varies from poor to nonexistant while in that room. Something must be done!

There are also not enough ports on the routers themselves. I’ve got four computers in the room with the router that require network access. Depending on what is required to hook up a printer, I might need a crossover to a print server or a direct network line to the printer. So assume that I need 4+1 ports on my router. No router comes with 5 ports.

These routers kick off heat like they’re on fire. I’m sure that the frequent failures have something to do with temperature. If they’re going to get hot, put a fan in them to keep them cool.

Speed is also an issue. The WRT54GP2 is not speedy, especially between computers on the same network. It seems to have trouble handling data coming in on the FIOS line at a decent speed while also routing internal network traffic. For instance, if I’m downloading something from the internet on one computer, and streaming music across the network from one PC to another, that throws a wrench into the WRT’s speed. It is supposed to have an integrated switch, but it behaves as though it’s got a hub in there.

The FIOS connection is faster than 10Mbps. The whole system needs to be at least 100Mbps.

The WRT54GP2 does a great job with QoS on the VoIP. That was a big problem with the Netgear router when coupled with the Motorola VoIP device. With the Netgear, phone calls would be choppy when a computer was downloading or uploading something significant. The router should ensure that the VoIP has the bandwidth to keep the calls clear. This hasn’t been as much of a problem since we switched from DSL to fiber, but it’s one of Berta’s complaints about the network.

The Linsys router handles the VoIP directly, which is great since there’s no need for a separate box. The Motorola box I described earlier would be a hindrance on our home network because if it’s hooked in between the router and the WAN line, then the whole network drops to 10Mbps from the 15Mbps we pay for. If the Motorola device is on the inside of the router, then the router needs to allow custom QoS for it, or phone calls are choppy or dropped when the network gets busy. The Linksys setup is ideal because it handles QoS internally for the calls, and doesn’t require extra hardware. Sadly, most other things about the Linksys router are lacking.

The D-Link router that came with the FIOS package is fairly capable. It’s speedy - I’ll give it that. The admin interface is clunky, if more feature-rich than the Linksys. Unfortunately, the D-Link doesn’t do Wifi or phone service. So at the moment, my Linksys router is behind the D-Link router, which makes the back half of my network inaccessible from the front.

Ideally: One wireless router with 8 LAN ports, a USB printer port, and Vonage-capable VoIP. The wireless options would use DHCP to assign clients to one of two LAN subnets based on their MAC address, which would more limit access to the LAN from potential wireless invaders. The router would handle QoS over the VoIP line. Rebooting the router would only be necessary in rare circumstances. The wireless range would cover the back porch and all of the front yard in at least 40% quality, and the living room in at least 80%. The router admin would allow easily configured triggers for routing ports through its internal NAT/firewall. UPnP that actually worked would be swell. Heat would be low or maintained with a quiet fan. Wired ports would function at 100Mbps or better, and would be switched.

SMC has a Barricade router that has 4 ports, wireless g, VoIP (Vonage compatibility is unknown), and a USB printer port. This seems like something to look into.

I’m seriously desperate for a final solution here. I was looking at the Cisco seies 1800 routers yesterday. Something needs to be done.

Anybody have any other ideas?