Going wireless is the way to go especially with improved speeds over the air now possible with the whole new ranges of 802.11n WiFi routers being sold by the many manufacturers.
D-Link DIR-632 - Eight LAN ports should be enough
D-Link has launched their DIR-632, an 8-port 802.11n WiFi router. Along with the ports, it introduces a whole list of the features that you expected from routers twice its price.
The key feature of the router is the large number of 100Mbps Ethernet ports. The router has eight of these which would typically be handy for a SoHo or a small internet café. For most home users, these many ports will be of little use. WiFi 802.11n capacbility should give it an edge over other routers as well. All of the usual features you find in a good router are available – QoS, web site and access filtering. There is also some emphasis on IPv6 in the advanced menus.
Plenty of 100Mbps LAN ports at the rear
The USB port function at the rear of the router can be used to share data and it can also be used to connect to the internet using a 3G modem. There is also support for something called WCN which is something Microsoft deviced to make configuring wireless network simpler. This feature also needs a USB flash drive to function.
Vents at the front just under the long line of activity indicators
In terms of interface design, the UI hasn’t changed a lot in the past. It’s not the simplest interface to get used to, but for more advanced users, it’s a joy to use. As always, the internet connection can be setup manually or using a more automated wizard-style system. There is help provided almost all across the interface. There is also a Support page will more detailed documentation provided for all of the router’s features. In some places, the interface does look very cluttered.
Design and Build Quality
One of the first things you notice about the DIR-632 is that it’s noticeably larger than most other WiFi routers. The reason for that are the 8 wired 100Mbps ports at the rear of the router. In terms of build quality, it’s a pretty lightweight router and a little flimsy at the bottom. The front face of the router has the activity indicators for each one of the wired ports clearly marked. There’s also an indicator for the USB port. Provision for wall mounts is present on the back of the router and there is space for two antennas.
The performance of a WiFi 802.11n router should be considerably better than standard 802.11g routers. We setup the router in the Tech2 Labs close to where the router was and tried copying two data sets of 2 GB each. There were two test zones that we used. The first test was performed in the same room as the router. The second test was done in the room adjoining the labs. During our test run, we saw speeds of sequential data in the first zone peaking at 5.52MB/s, which is roughly the same theoretical speed of WiFi 802.11g (54Mbps). The assorted data set took a little longer with an average speed of 4.64MB/s. In the second zone, sequential data sets averaged 4.13MB/s and the assorted data folder 3.63MB/s.
Large but still wall-mountable
To put this into simple terms, the speeds are average but they’re still very good and should be able to handle HD 1080 content over the network. For browsing and streaming Youtube, even 0.5MB/s is way more than sufficient.
Heating is minimal and we saw no signs of instability. The connection was stable all along and there were no disconnections, whatsoever.
The D-Link DIR-632 sells in the market for an approximate Rs. 3,330, which is actually pretty cheap for an extensive router such as this. The eight ports won’t be useful for everyone, but if you’re not too particular about the size of the router, this router has quite a hefty feature set. The 3G USB adapter feature is handy if you’re using one of the 3G services being provided today. The performance isn’t too bad, either. Even though you won’t reach anywhere close to the speeds that D-Link claims to reach in an everyday scenario, it’s still more than sufficient for the kind of activities you’ll use it for – browsing, downloading and streaming a few videos here and there.
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