Trendnet’s TEW-652BRP looked promising in our first benchmark test, with the client in the kitchen and closest to the router. Achieving TCP throughput of 68.4Mb/s put it in third place behind Belkin’s N Wireless and D-Link’s DIR-615. Performance went downhill from there, with the TEW-652BRP placing fifth, fourth, and last in our patio, bedroom, and media room locations, respectively. It couldn’t maintain a connection to the client at all in our most distant outdoor tests.
Feature-wise, the TEW-652BRP is about as basic as they come. You can establish routing rules for special applications, such as games, but QoS features are limited to the minimum required to achieve Wi-Fi Alliance certification.
Unlike the Linksys WRT120N, Netgear’s WNR2000 does carry the Wi-Fi Alliance’s 802.11n certification, but that logo didn’t help this router perform any better in our benchmark tests. On the other hand, this was one of the few routers able to maintain a usable connection in both of our long-range outdoor tests.
Netgear’s router was barely faster than the Linksys at close range, delivering anemic TCP throughput of just 47.1Mb/s, compared to the WRT120N’s equally paltry 45.4Mb/s. But the WNR2000 was slower than the rest of the field with the client on the patio (TCP throughput of 14.7Mb/s), and its performance dropped to the single digits when the client was located in the bedroom and in the media room (5.1- and 5.0Mb/s, respectively). We wouldn’t recommend this product to anyone interested in wireless media streaming unless the client is very close to the router.
We hope Linksys’s marketing effort with the WRT120N won’t blossom into an industry trend, but we know it will. Linksys advertises this router with the tagline “Step up to the speed of Wireless-N!” Read the data sheet, however, and you’ll find this: “Complies with IEEE 802.3u, 802.11g, and 802.11b standards, and [is] compatible with some 802.11n features” (emphasis ours). The 802.11n standard has achieved sufficient brand recognition that many consumers won’t look past the N in the product’s name, and they’ll fail to notice that the Wi-Fi Alliance certification logo on the WRT120N’s box extends only to 802.11b/g.
Yep, this is a single-stream router, and the benchmark numbers reflect that design: The WRT120N achieved less than half the throughput of our zero-point router, Trendnet’s TEW-639GR, in our kitchen, bedroom, and patio tests. It did beat the snot out of Trendnet’s other router, the TEW-652BRP (reviewed on the next page), but the Trendnet’s street price is nearly half that of the WRT120N.
D-Link’s DIR-615 carries a $70 list price, but most of the retailers we checked were selling it for around $40 when we wrote this feature. At that price, this router is an absolute steal.
The DIR-615 was slower than our zero-point, Trendnet’s TEW-639GR, in four of our six test locations, but it and the Belkin N Wireless were the only models in this group fast enough to wirelessly stream high-definition video to our media room. And unlike most of the rest of the field, it had no problem delivering usable bandwidth to the client in both of our long-range outdoor test locations. Taking the zero-point out of the equation, Belkin’s N Wireless router was faster at the two locations where the client is closest to the router, but the DIR-615 was faster than everything everywhere else.
Router manufacturers have a bad habit of assigning the same names to several different products, or completely changing a router’s underlying architecture and changing only the version number. Belkin has two routers it calls N Wireless (and a third called the N+ Wireless). For the record, we reviewed its model F5D8236-4.
The N Wireless is very short on features, but it turned in first- or second-place performances at four of our six test locations. It delivered TCP throughput of 76.2Mb/s with the client in the kitchen, 38.1Mb/s on the outdoor patio, and 20.3Mb/s in the double-walled media room. (Its throughput in the media room was two to five times faster than everything other than the D-Link DIR-615). Once we moved the client to our more distant outdoor locations, however, the router and client couldn’t maintain a connection at all.
Asus isn’t a huge player in the router market, but the company has come up with a few noteworthy models in the past few years. We’d happily count the RT-N13U as one of them if it delivered reasonable throughput or decent range.
This was the only router we tested that was capable of sharing a USB printer, and while Asus claims it can support multifunction devices, it guarantees compatibility only with the ones the company has tested. We plugged in an Epson Stylus NX515 and could print documents, but we couldn’t get the scanner function to work. (You’ll find a list of supported printers here). The RT-N13U was also the only router we tested that was capable of hosting a USB hard drive, but the router permits only FTP access to that storage.
It gets better. Qisada sent the contraption to the FCC, and according to the filing, the router comes with an odd mix of features. We can justify the touchscreen, but a speaker? Apparently it will come in handy when you're watching YouTube videos or tuning into FM radio stations on a device we've traditionally relied on to keep quiet and push our packets to the right PC.
As a router, it boasts 802.11n Wi-Fi, but only one spare Ethernet port. It also includes a USB port and mini USB port.
Check out the FCC page with plenty of related PDF docs and pics here.
Bummed that there's no such thing as an LTE (Long Term Evolution) router? Don't be, because ZyXEL, the China-based maker of various networking gear, today announced the ZLR-2070S, laying claim to the world's first LTE CPE/SOHO router.
"ZyXEL is excited to lead the LTE revolution by bringing innovative solutions to service providers," said Brian Feng, senior VP, Key accounts business unit for ZyXEL. "We are proud to offer service providers the ability to bring wireless high speed Internet access to millions, including those in under-served markets."
The new device comes with two VoIP ports, home networking capabilities via a four-port, 802.11n wireless switch, a USB port for printer sharing and storage devices, and data rates up to 50Mbps.
No word yet on price or availability, but ZyXEL did say it plans to demo the new unit during CES next month.
I'm sure many readers of Maximum PC--this one included--have jumped onboard the Google DNS ship, lured either by promises of increased speed versus one's own DNS server or a simple fascination at anything Google does. Fair, at least with the latter. Because it would be erroneous to just switch over to an alternate DNS server without any kind of assessment that what you're doing is actually the best-case scenario for your home or office setup.
That said, it's important to first give props to Google for delivering a DNS service that appears to be free of any kind of takeovers or unexpected redirects. Just try hand-pounding your keyboard after clicking on your browser's address board, then hit enter. If the resulting "fasdfljsajdf.com" isn't actually a Web site, you'll notice how... nothing happens, save for the standard "what are you doing?" error page (depending on your browser of choice). That's a bit different than OpenDNS, which routes you over to one of its own landing pages--oddly, a rebranded version of Yahoo! search--that's stacked with advertising related to whatever it is you mistyped. Weak.
Redirects aside, it's important to know exactly what you're getting into when you start fussing around with going a step beyond your ISP's default DNS servers. Like a tangible product review, you should really assess what you're gaining and losing through the use of either OpenDNS or Google DNS from both a performance and features standpoint.
After the jump, I'll share my own personal results with using both Google DNS and OpenDNS, and show you exactly how you can figure out the best-case scenario for your own browsing needs!
If you listen to Microsoft, ad hoc wireless networking, which lets several Windows computers share a single connection, is one of a bunch of networking features not included in Windows 7 Starter Edition. But is that really the case?
"On Windows 7 Starter Edition, the 'Set up a wireless ad hoc network' link in the [Set Up a Connection or Networking] dialog is missing," said Rivera in an entry on his Within Windows blog. "That's the licensed 'feature' you're missing out on. I repeat: You're licensed to use ad-hoc networking. You're not licensed to use the shortcut in this dialog. To access the wizard that this link normally points to, simply Start Menu search for 'adhoc.' It's a lot of work, I know."
So for the time being, netbooks users running Windows 7 Starter can still create an on-the-fly connection for sharing an Internet connection, but this is something that Microsoft will likely address in a future hotfix or Service Pack.
"I believe it's safe to assume this is an unintentional screw up," Rivera added. "Enjoy it while you can, netbook cheapos."