We were surprised when we heard that Western Digital, which is largely known for its storage and multimedia devices, recently entered the networking segment. The brand has recently launched a range of wireless networking routers and we had a hands on with the MyNet N900 HD dual-band router. Let’s see what it has in store for you.
Slightly wider than typical routers
Design and Build
While some routers are vertically designed with either hidden or external antennas, this one is horizontal and resembles an old-school lunch box. The router is slightly wider than most conventional wireless routers available today, thanks to the 8-port Ethernet connectors on the rear. It is quite uncommon to see routers with 7 LAN ports and 1 WAN port around, but we assure you it can be beneficial for small offices. The unit is pretty rugged and sturdy, but the shell is slightly glossy around the top edges. The router has a dual-tone body with a black top and the rest has a matte silver finish. The front panel features four LED status indicators for power, Wi-Fi, WAN and WPS and a touch switch for the WPS mode. The rear panel sports a power switch, power jack, two USB 2.0 ports and Gigabit Ethernet ports, which include 7 LAN and 1 WAN interface. The two USB ports on the rear were initially confusing as one sported a blue colour that resembles a USB 3.0 port. But it turns out that both the USB ports are 2.0. Another unique feature unseen in conventional routers today is an exhaust fan, which is on the base to help cool the router during extreme performance and 24x7 operation modes. The router is wall-mountable and looks good enough to blend with your interiors. Bundled along with the product is a power adapter, a network patch cable for LAN or WAN, a user manual and a startup disk.
Simple status indicators on the front panel
7 x LAN + 1 x WAN Gigabit and 2 x USB 2.0 ports
Many might confuse or assume that the MyNet would have a bandwidth of 900 Mbps because of its name. But the fact is that the WD MyNet N900 is a dual-band router and can simultaneously operate in two different frequency bands of 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The router complies with IEEE 802.11 N standards and is capable of data throughputs of up to 450Mbps on both bands. It is aimed specifically towards those users who would want to implement HD media streaming on their network. Implementing both the frequency bands can double the bandwidth speed by increasing throughput and also reducing interference from other devices that use the 2.4GHz frequency band, for example, Bluetooth devices, cordless phones, microwave ovens and few other typical home appliances.
The product also incorporates range-amplifying technology and additional internal antennas, which help broaden the wireless signal to reach out to a wider area. Parental controls are included for website restrictions, time limits and internet security, beneficial for both home and small office environments. USB ports provided on the rear make it easy to add and share external storage drives, printers and scanners to all on the connected network. The router is Gigabit and IPv6 ready for future networks, offers personal cloud storage and features network monitoring and built-in diagnostics.
Three additional softwares provided on the disk
Setup and Configuration
Setting up the device is as simple as any wireless router you may have used in the past. All you need to do is simply power on the router and connect a PC or laptop to it either wirelessly or using an Ethernet cable, and enter the default IP address of the router in any Internet browser. Sadly though, this router is not secured by default and you will need to initially set passwords for the Admin and the wireless network. A few routers from other brands feature out-of-the-box security and you don’t even need to configure it, because the SSID and passwords are pre-set and noted on the user manual and on the router. This helps any lay man or an individual, who does not know how to configure a wireless router, start using it by just powering it up without the worry of securing the network.
The setup wizard
Moving on, we hit the routers IP address to configure it using the usual old-fashioned method. The first page greeted us with a setup wizard, but the second page itself notified us with warnings that the security for the two frequency bands are open, there is no Admin password specified, the Guest access, WAN and LAN are not yet configured and the product is not yet registered. It will seem foolish for an enthusiast to see these notification alerts, but for a novice, it could mean a lot. You can use the setup wizard to guide you along or simply move on and manually configure the router if you know what to do. You can choose to keep both bands active (2.4GHz and 5GHz) or keep either one available as per your requirements. Do note that there are not many devices that use a 5GHz wireless network.
Storage sharing configuration
You can also set up the storage section where you can plug in an external storage drive and configure it to be shared, streamed or stored using DLNA, iTunes or FTP respectively. This can also be secured by enabling public access or using passwords. Other options are adding a device using the WPS configuration and the advanced area where you can micro-manage the entire router for specific options such as WAN and LAN connections, MAC filtering, firewall, access restriction, DNS settings, IPv4 and IPv6 settings, storage and a lot of other settings almost common on any typical wireless router. Lastly, you can click on the dashboard tab to see the working and short status of the router. What feels sad is that the router’s firmware is not designed in such a way that you can make all your settings and configurations and apply them all at once. The router resets the wireless network or will reset completely every time you make and save any changes in the firmware. This will be pretty irritating, especially when you are configuring the router over a wireless route. We also noted the absence of an automatic firmware update feature. Overall, the setup page is very well-designed with large icons and easy to find configuration areas and is very user friendly compared to any other router we have reviewed or used in the past.
Setting up the router is also possible using the setup disk provided with the MyNet N900. The disk is also used to ship three of Western Digital’s proprietary utilities—WD Print Share, WD Quick View and WD My Net View. Print Share helps set up and share printers or scanners connected to the router’s USB ports. Quick View is a status monitor and alerting software for the router’s firmware, attached storage drives and router’s settings. My Net View helps diagnosis of the network and any information required to address network issues. These utilities can also be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website whenever required.
We tested the router by hooking it up to a regular PC via the Ethernet port and used a laptop over the wireless connection using a Linksys WUSB600N dual Band wireless dongle. We did a real-world performance test as this is what any person can understand best. The router was placed in a regular-sized office with work bays and a few other standard wireless routers running on the 2.4GHz frequency band in the same zone. The test was performed using a single 1.1GB video file, which would represent some large files being sent across or almost simulate a high-definition video being streamed or copied. The test was performed by placing the laptop in three different zones—the first being 1 metre from the router, the second zone was at around 5 metres from the router with no barriers in between and the third zone was at around 10 metres with one thin wall in between. The average throughput obtained when using the router in the 2.4GHz band was 8MB/s, 7MB/s and 4MB/s respectively. When switched to use the 5MHz band, we acquired throughputs of 11.7MB/s, 10.5MB/s and 5.6MB/s respectively. This test verifies that using the router and compatible peripherals in the 5MHz band would give you better speeds because of the low disturbances caused from other routers and wireless devices in the area.
Signal strength over a distance of 1 m, 5 m and 10 m
The throughput speeds that we recorded should not be considered as a final verdict of the router's performance as these results will vary according to the environment it is placed in and the number of devices and PCs connected to the router both wirelessly and physically. If you have large open rooms, you can get better performances. If your rooms are smaller and cluttered with furniture, metal objects, too many walls or even has a number of wireless devices, then it will affect the performance.
Verdict and Price in India
Going by the selling price of Rs. 11,999, we feel the product is priced well in the market. There are other brands also that offer the same speeds (N900 and Gigabit ports), but they don’t offer certain features that this one offers, for example, 2 USB ports and 7 Gigabit ports. Some routers also sport BT and HTTP download support and are DD-WRT compatible, but are still priced higher than the MyNet N900. We would recommend the MyNet N900 to those looking for a future-proof wired and wireless networking router (IPv6 and Gigabit support with Dual Band N450 Mb/s speeds) for their homes or small business premises.
Published Date: Oct 08, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated Date: Oct 08, 2012 12:00 pm