Amazon Review by I Love Owls
4253 people found the following review helpful
Initially exhilarating, ultimately disappointing...
I wouldn't normally start off a review with an autobiography but for a device like this - especially considering what I'm going to say about it - I think it's important information for the review reader to have.
I’ve been in network engineering for almost 20 years and have been designing networks for Fortune 10 companies for the past decade. I’ve sold, used, configured, and even helped design networking devices in both my professional and personal life. I’ve used a half dozen different brands over the years here in my home but I’ve been a loyal Netgear customer for about 6 years. I’ve also been an active participant in Netgear consumer beta testing and a couple of the Netgear devices you see on Amazon today are the result of input from myself and others. I’ve had a very productive relationship with Netgear and they’ve been very good to me during that time.
My first impression of this router was simply “wow”. The 5Ghz range on this unit was easily 20% better than both the Netgear WNDR3700 and the Asus RT-N66U. There were places in my house where I couldn’t get a reliable 5Ghz connection before that now had superb coverage. The R7000 was instantly worth the money. I have approximately 35 devices on my network with two external Access Points hard-wired to the router. Total throughput increased slightly on the entire network but since I don’t have any 802.11ac clients, I couldn’t push the router to see what kind of max throughput I could get.
There’s not really much more I can say than that. Like most of the Netgear routers I’ve used before, it took about 10 minutes to configure and after that everything just worked. I don’t have to worry about interference (closest neighboring network is at least 2 miles away). I don’t use the USB/NAS/Media server functions (which have been unreliable on several Netgear models).
Unfortunately, about 3 days in, my kids started telling me they couldn’t print. I did a couple of days of troubleshooting and I tried defaulting and reconfiguring the printer. Normally, my kids are connected to one of the APs. If I connected them directly to the R7000 wirelessly, they could print again. The only thing that fixed the problem was rebooting the router.
Without going into exhaustive detail, here is what I found:
- Multiple online reports of people intermittently losing connectivity to wireless printers (HP, Canon, or in my case, Epson)
- Printer wasn’t the only problem. While connected directly via wireless to the R7000, I couldn’t connect to other wired devices.
- After much online discussion with other users, it appears that wired and wireless devices are losing the ability to see each other after some period of runtime.
- When the problem appears, wireless devices connected to the R7000 appear in the WIRED section of the “attached devices” screen.
- Rebooting the problem ALWAYS fixes the issue. Within 48 hours or so after the reboot, the problem re-appears.
This nagging issue isn’t a showstopper but it is frustrating. What happened next is ultimately why I’m only giving this router 2 stars.
After 2 weeks of working on the issue, I opened a case with Netgear. Here I am 5 weeks, 11 phone calls, 158 emails, and SIX beta firmware revisions later and the problem isn’t solved.
I really don’t know where to start with what I used to consider one of the best customer support departments I’ve ever dealt with.
They don’t communicate internally and they’re extremely disorganized. Several times, I gave them debug and packet capture info that they were going to “send to the engineers”. To date, I have received ZERO feedback on any of the information I have sent them. Several times, I had to update my ticket multiple times with the same information because they rotate support techs by shift and they weren’t reading the tickets before contacting me. Several times, they would tell me to try things via email, even though I had already told another tech on the phone that I had tried it.
When Netgear agrees to allow you to test beta firmware, they want you to sign an NDA. Previously, this was always done electronically via their website. One quarter of the way into this process, they changed to a generic paper agreement which you had to physically sign and FAX or scan and email back. Fairly standard practice in the industry except that they DON’T KEEP THEM ON FILE. It’s a generic NDA and should cover any and all beta testing for the term of the agreement but no. Every time they wanted me to test a new beta firmware I had to download, print, sign, scan, and then email them a new copy of the SAME generic NDA with a different date on it.
As I mentioned before I gathered volumes of troubleshooting information for Netgear. The only feedback I ever received was “here try this new firmware and see if it works”. I never once had anybody say “we’ve isolated this in the lab” or “we’re working on a fix”. They have been throwing darts the entire time. Not only that but they asked me to do things like gather packet captures with Wireshark. They knew full well that these packet captures were going to be large files (one of them was over 600MB) but they provided me no mechanism to actually SEND THEM. Their web tool is currently the only way to send them a file and the file size limit is 10MB. They refused to provide me with a Netgear FTP site to upload them and asked me to upload them to two different PUBLIC file sharing services, knowing that these packet captures could contain information like my WPA2 pre-shared keys and potentially some clear text internal LAN passwords. I agreed to setup an FTP server on my own time so that they could download them from me with the request that they download them promptly and let me know when they were done so I could shut it down (I don’t want to allow open, always-on access from the outside world). They did neither. After 2 days of not hearing from them, I shut down the FTP server, opened a DropBox account, and sent them the files. That was the last I ever heard about it.
The real kicker is this - Netgear has a long-standing reputation of releasing firmware updates slowly and for a limited amount of time. Generally, a new device gets firmware updates about every 2 months or so, for maybe a little over a year, so each devices ends up with around 4 to 5 firmware updates before they stop development. While this has never been a problem for me in the past, I’m growing concerned that this device could be the first. They’ve published 3 release firmware revisions to date and they have yet to even prove to themselves this problem exists, let alone fix it. At this rate, the R7000v2 will be out before the problems are fixed and people with this first gen model still having problems will be out of luck.
Bottom line - this router is a performance monster. If you happen to be a lucky one and get a unit that doesn’t have any issues, you’re going to be VERY happy I would imagine. However, if you’re not one of the lucky ones, you have a decision to make - live with the little nagging issues or try something else. I am simply floored at how bad Netgear’s support has gotten. Despite my long-standing relationship with them, I will be hard-pressed to buy another Netgear product anytime soon.