Power-users have been familiar with Draytek's Vigor range for some years. In the early days of broadband, it gained a reputation for packing lots of features: when other router makers thought it generous to include a 4-port LAN switch, Draytek had a stateful-inspection firewall in its ADSL routers.

The company is still the same as ever, but it takes a lot more to impress broadband users. The Vigor2800VG supports ADSL 2+, includes VoIP with QoS support and two phone sockets, a Wi-Fi access point, and a printer sharing USB socket.

That specification puts it into the same category as the AVM Fritz!Box, especially the Fritz 7140.

The two machines have a very different character, however. Where the Fritz majors on ease of use, the Vigor goes for features - putting as many into the mix, and making them as visible as possible.

Appearance and basic installation

The Vigor is for people who want to know what's going on: it has nine LEDs, indicating activity, QoS, and action on the two voice ports, the printer and the four LAN ports. Other than that, it's a flattish, grey box, with lots of sockets at the back.

Setting up is simple. We plugged our ADSL line into the ADSL port, connected our PC via one Ethernet socket, and navigated to 192.168.1.1 to get the Web management interface. From there, it's little more than entering the username and password for a DSL account, either in the quick start wizard or directly in the Internet settings. We also connected it to our other WAN option, a fixed wireless link from Urban WiMax. That was just a case of plugging Ethernet port A into an avaialable port on the router provided by Urban Wimax.

Further down the management page is the wireless LAN set-up, where it's easy to choose mode (802.11b, 802.11g, SuperG, or several sensible combinations) and choose a security mode (it does WEP and WPA/PSK, like any good router should, but also supports 802.1x authentication, which could make it a good corporate citizen.

It also supports the two obvious adjuncts to wireless security: hiding the SSID from simple scans, and restricting access to known MAC accesses. Both are no barrier to serious hackers, but stop the neighbours prying.

Two regular phones plug into the two phone sockets. They give a reassuring dial-tone, even when no SIP client details are stored in the router - which can hold credentials for up to six SIP accounts. These can be linked to either or both the phone ports, and each phone set to default to any of the SIP accounts loaded.

Telappliant, that provided us with the router, also operates a SIP-based VoIP service which seems cost-effective. We opened an account with Telappliant and added its details, along with details for other SIP The phones then dial as normal, giving clear phone calls to any other telephone.

So, in a few minutes, we had a basic router, two extra phone lines and a wireless network. All that is covered in the short printed "quick start" manual. But in the process of set-up, you can't help noticing a lot of other settings that can be entered. To get into that, you have to open the PDF on the supplied CD.

Advanced stuff

It would take considerable time to check out all the more advanced features. On the LAN, it supports up to four virtual LANs, and RIP routing protocol, allowing public and private subnets. It also allows port redirection, so public servers can be put on the LAN.

A useful screen lets you set limits the rates that different wired and wireless clients can get, protecting the service that others will get.

It also allows one port to be specified as a DMZ host - exposed to all traffic from the Internet, while the other ports are protected by network address translation (NAT). This could be useful for anyone running public servers not wanting to expose the rest of the network.

The settings of the firewall are well exposed, so it is possible to block applications such as P2P and IM, or use a content filter such as SurfControl. It also has an impressive page of options to block denial of service (DoS) attacks, such as Syn Flood. These work by setting thresholds - abnormal levels of activity are treated as malicious and ignored.

The box supports VPNs - and from the set-up, Draytek clearly envisage people running VPN servers within their LAN, not just a client to connect to a VPN hosted somewhere else. It also supports remote dial-in users, and LAN to LAN connections across the Internet.

The router also allows dial-in accounts, protected by PPTP, L2TP or IPsec and authenticated with digital certificates (it can generate and use X509 certificates). It also includes the obvious dial-in security feature of call-back.

One disappointing lack from the extras - we would have thought USB printer sharing would be a basic feature, but the printed and on-disk manuals had no support or guidance on this as far as we could tell. It seems to have fallen between the two stools.

Conclusions

This is a router that should satisfy network managers, but does a good job of making the basic functions easy to get up and running (with the exception of the USB printer port). The phone ports would be more useful if they could also make analogue calls, but otherwise, it's very hard to think of anything that's been missed out.

OUR VERDICT

Bristling with features, this is a great product if you know you are going to have do complex nextworking through your router. The wireless and VoIP implementations are good, but they are just the start. The real reason for getting a Vigor is the ability to tweak myriad network, VPN and firewall settings, and run better services between your office LAN and the Internet. The downside is that any features beyond the basics are complex.