D-Link’s DIR-685 Wi-Fi router generated a lot of buzz at CES this past January. And when we took a gander at its spec sheet, we thought it a contender for Best of the Best in the router category; something that would finally displace the Linksys WRT600N, which is becoming hard to find. Alas, ’twas not to be.
The problem certainly isn’t with the DIR-685’s feature set: This router is absolutely loaded with goodies. The 3.2-inch color LCD can inform you of the router’s status and configuration; present digital photos from Flickr, Picasa, and Facebook; display RSS feeds, such as sports scores, weather reports, and stock quotes; and a lot more (this is one router your significant other won’t insist be hidden in a closet).
Next up, there’s a 2.5-inch internal SATA hard drive bay, which can turn the router into a NAS box (complemented by a built-in FTP server and BitTorrent software). There are two USB ports featuring D-Link’s SharePort technology, which allows you to plug in both an external hard drive and a printer and share these devices with any computer on the network. The router’s four-port gigabit switch automatically powers down any ports not in use to save a modest amount of energy.
Netgear announced their latest foray into the open source wireless router realm with the Netgear WNR3500L. Cisco based Linksys routers targeted at consumers have been flaunting the Linux OS for quite some time. However, Netgear has plans to become a favorite amongst the open source networking community.
The WNR3500L rocks the latest 802.11n support and is fully customizable with the latest open source firmware out there: DD-WRT, OpenWRT, and Tomato. Som Pal Choudhury, senior product line manager for advanced wireless, also mentioned their “Development Partner Program, with multiple software vendors and developers creating customized, robust, commercial-grade applications on the WNR3500L.”
In addition to the open source community, Netgear has collaborated with software application companies to deliver applications such as hotspot software by Sputnik, and remote access by Leaf Networks, among others, to run additionally on the Linux platform.
In terms of hardware, it sports a 480MHz MIPS 74K CPU, 8MB of flash memory, 64MB of RAM, 5 gigabit Ethernet ports, and USB ports for shared peripherals. Netgear will launch the router this Fall with a starting price of $139.99.
The price is a bit steep; do you think the flexibility of Linux and additional software, not to mention full 802.11n support is worth the price tag?
Home broadband routers are remarkably complex devices that few ever take the time to truly understand. As long as the lights are blinking, and webpages load, most people are inclined to leave them be. The few brave souls who venture into the firmware are often rewarded with a maze of menus that betray the true complexity of these underappreciated appliances. Wireless channels, security modes, and even port forwarding can be frustrating concepts for those without a networking background, but are absolutely critical to understanding how to optimize your home network.
In this guide we will teach you the finer points of security, as well as give you surefire ways to boost your router's performance. Topics covered include:
How to Safely Secure and Isolate a Network
How to Maximize Your Route's Broadcast Strength
How to Make Your Router Play Nice with Skype and BitTorrent
With 802.11n Draft 2.0 routers becoming as common as Storm Troopers at Comic-Con, manufacturers need a feature that sets their product apart from the crowd. Like many of its competitors, Belkin added a second radio to its N+ Wireless Router—but this one is used for a very different purpose.
Rather than operating on a separate frequency (to separate audio and video streams from more mundane data), the second 2.4GHz radio on Belkin’s router establishes a guest network that limits clients to Internet access. Belkin’s web interface provides extremely limited access to this second radio’s settings: You can turn this radio on or off, change its SSID and passphrase, and choose between WPA/WPA2 pre-shared key or “Hotel Style” security.
The IEEE standards group has finally ratified 802.11n, a standard that has been stuck in limbo since 2006 when it first entered draft status. Draft N devices delivered on the promise of higher speeds and better range, but despite assurances, many feared compatibility would be an issue down the road.
The extended delay in approving the standard came from competing “pre-N” technologies from Atheros and Broadcom, which led to a long and drawn out debate over the form of the final spec. The delay led the IEEE to certify Draft 2.0 802.11n devices in March 2007, with the understanding that these would be upgradable through firmware to the final standard. To accomplish this, a promise was made to make no major changes to the spec, or the certification process.
802.11n has seen a high level of adoption within consumer electronics and networking equipment, but companies are typically slow to adopt anything bearing the title “draft”. Keep an eye out for new firmware and drivers for your 802.11n hardware in the days and weeks to come. Officials from the IEEE plan to publish the final standard sometime in mid-October. I guess the time has finally come to look forward to the next big leap in Wi-Fi speeds. I wonder how many letters of the alphabet they plan to skip this time?
Have you been waiting for the Wi-Fi Alliances blessing to buy new hardware?
Taiwan based manufacturer of network solutions, D-Link, saw its highest revenues of the year last month. In August, the firm saw consolidated revenues of $80.43 million. This is particularly good news for D-Link, as the first eight months of the year showed a 16% decrease from 2008 numbers.
The monthly figures were also 7.8% higher than August of last year. D-Link also expects revenue to continue climbing for the rest of the year. Things are also looking up for 2010. "There's a lot of space for growth, especially in the emerging markets. Brazil and China appear to be climbing out of a slowdown, and that's going to drive some of our growth," said D-Link CEO, Tony Tsao.
Netgear’s MOCA (short for Multimedia over Coax Alliance) adapter is the can solution to the can’t. If you can’t get a reliable Wi-Fi signal throughout your home and you can’t make an Ethernet cable run and you can’t tap your home’s electrical grid with a HomePlug Powerline adapter, than MOCA is the can.
Using existing standard cable coax wires, the Netgear MOCA adapter lets you turn your cable TV runs into a “home entertainment network.” What the hell is that? Since the adapter is built around passing data through your cable TV, it’s no surprise that MOCA wants to push its adoption as an easy way to get Internet connectivity to your set top box, game console, or media center PC.
Setup is Joe-six-pack friendly: Just unplug the coax cable from your TV set and plug it into the Netgear MOCA adapter. Run a second coax cable from the adapter to the TV. TV signals are passed through transparently, so your American Idol viewing won’t be disturbed. And if the signal is degraded you can actually change the frequency the adapter operates on.
Networking in Windows 7 builds upon the drastic remodeling that occurred in Windows Vista. However, although some of the basic networking features in Windows 7 are similar to those in Windows Vista, many networking features have been improved in Microsoft's latest operating system. And, if you are moving up from Windows XP, you will find that Windows 7's network interface is a completely different animal than you've encountered before. Whether you're moving up from Windows Vista or Windows XP, join us after the jump to learn what's new and better in the main building blocks of Windows 7 networking.
You are reading Maximum PC because you love to build, and tweak your rig. We will gladly spend hours trying to nudge a few extra clock cycles out of our CPU’s, but why do so many of us refuse to touch our network settings? The vast majority of users simply plug in their network cables, cross their fingers, and sacrifice an AOL CD to the gods who keep Conficker at bay. Truth be told, without going into too much depth up front, there is a really easy way to boost your surfing speed and it requires very little effort at all. This same tool gives you the ability to customize your internet experience further by creating URL shortcuts, or even filtering content, all without extra software.
The tool we are referring to is Domain Name System, or DNS for short. In a nutshell, DNS is your phone book for the internet. It helps translate a friendly internet domain like www.maximumpc.com, into IP address that our computer needs to find servers on the internet. Each time you visit a new website, a DNS query is issued in the background, and you’re none the wiser. Internet service providers supply DNS to all their customers, but these servers tend to be overpopulated, and certainly aren’t a priority to them because it’s difficult for the average user to measure performance. Power users are intimately familiar with how to benchmark raw connection speeds, but before that even becomes a factor, your machine needs IP address which is supplied by your DNS. Even if your smoking fast Fiber Optic connection can handle 18 Mbps, if your ISP’s DNS server wastes several seconds looking up your favorite website, you connection may be sitting in limbo when you could be surfing instead.
Interested in finding out how to improve the responsiveness of your connection and learning more about your DNS options? Hit the jump to find out more.
Looking for a dual-band router so you can run two independent Wi-Fi networks, using one frequency band for data and the second for streaming media? Scratch the DGL-4500 off your list, because D-Link’s definition of “dual-band” means operating on either the 2.4GHz band or the 5.0GHz band—not both at the same time.
When we think of a dual-band router, we envision something like the Linksys WRT600N we’ve been using as a reference point. That device has separate 802.11n Draft 2.0 radios that enable us to run two independent wireless networks. That’s not to say the DGL-4500 is a lousy router; in fact, it delivered far superior performance at long distances than the WRT600N. Where the Linksys box is nearly useless when our Wi-Fi client is outside our test home—delivering throughput of just 0.7Mb/s at one exterior location and 1.2Mb/s at the other—the D-Link delivered exceptional throughput of 18.0Mb/s and 6.44Mb/s, respectively.