• Using ChatGPT and Bard to Find a Tech Product

    The pcWRT router provides some unique features which are not common among consumer grade products. One such feature is VLAN support. Keyword searches usually don’t work well when a potential customer wants to find products supporting a specific technical feature.

    So we are trying to find out if AI technologies like ChatGPT and Google Bard will be able to help out. Here’s what we found.

    What is VLAN, why do you need it?

    First of all, what is VLAN and why do you want to use it at all?

    I asked both ChatGPT and Google Bard to give a short description of VLAN in a home environment. Bard’s answer was pretty long, so I’ll copy ChatGPT’s answer below:

    In a home environment, a VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network) can be used to create multiple logical networks within a single physical network. For example, you could create a separate VLAN for your home office computers, a guest network for visitors, and a separate VLAN for IoT devices. By separating devices into different VLANs, you can improve security by isolating sensitive devices or data from the rest of the network. You can also prioritize traffic and ensure that critical applications get the bandwidth they need. However, setting up VLANs can be a bit complicated, so you may want to consider getting help from a professional or doing some research to ensure you set it up correctly.

    It summarizes the use case for VLANs in a home network pretty well. It also warns you that VLAN setup maybe too complicated for the average home user. However, on the pcWRT router, we believe that we’ve made the task simple enough so that anyone can manage VLANs for their home network by following a few simple steps. Please checkout the demo video at the bottom of this post.

    What’s recommended by ChatGPT and Google Bard?

    Then I asked ChatGPT and Google Bard to make product recommendations. This was my question:

    I want to buy a home router with VLAN support, do you have any recommendations?

    These were the recommended products:

    1. TP-Link Archer C7. ChatGPT said it comes with VLAN support and you can create up to 6 VLANs. However, this router does not have VLAN support and I have no idea how ChatGPT came up with “up to 6 VLANs”.
    2. ASUS RT-AC66U B1. ChatGPT said this router supports up to 4 VLANs. Again, there’s no VLAN support on this router.
    3. Netgear Nighthawk R7000. ChatGPT said this router supports up to 5 VLANs. Fact is, this router supports VLAN tagging on the Internet side, i.e., on the connection to your ISP. There’s no such thing as “up to 5 VLANs” and it does not support the VLAN use cases outlined by ChatGPT itself.
    4. TP-Link Archer AX6000. Bard said this router provides VLAN support and is relatively easy to set up. Again, the VLAN support on this router is for connecting to IPTV service from the ISP, not for the intended use case of network segregation.
    5. Linksys Velop AX 4200. No VLAN. Can’t find the word VLAN in the user manual.
    6. Ubiquiti UniFi USG. VLAN is supported, but set up is complicated and not intended for the average household.
    7. Mikrotik RB750Gr3. VLAN is supported but the device is not intended for home use.

    As you can see, the majority of the recommendations do not support VLAN at all. The two that do support VLAN are not fit for home use. AI not only didn’t fare better than keyword search, but also manufactured their own “alternative facts” – so to speak.

    As a comparison, keyword search on Google correctly returned that the Archer C7 does not support VLAN.

    As far as we know, pcWRT is the only consumer router that supports VLAN, and is easy enough to configure in an average household setting. You are welcome to take a look at the video below to see how it works.

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