I decided to relocate. Renting a truck and movers would not be necessary as all I was moving was my desktop computer from the office to another room in the house. Unfortunately the Internet was further away than I was willing to stretch that nice blue cable to connect to it. I set out to purchase a router. I was perfectly happy with a hardwired connection, but my girlfriend insisted that if we want to turn the office into a guest bedroom it wouldnt be a good idea for me to use my computer while our guests were sleeping alongside of the hum of fans and clicks of keys. My mission began. A mission to come home with a router and enter the wireless world.
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I was amazed and, quite frankly, intimidated by the abundance of products designed for just the need that I had to fulfill. There were routers with one antenna, two antennas, and even three antennas. Linksys made them, D-Link made them, and I cant even remember if there was a third and fourth as I was slowly losing focus on my goal. And lets not even go down the route of IEEE 802.11b/g, and IEEE 802.11n (draft) standards. All were available in one way or another. I decided to go down the middle and chose the router with two antennas and wanting to keep up to speed (pun intended) I wanted for my router to have the N (draft) standard. The latest standard is superior not only in terms of speed [faster], but also distance [further]. Why the standards havent been labeled as a, b, c, and so on, each being faster than the last, is beyond me. Price was also a factor in helping me make my decision, but looks also played a part in helping me choose the DIR-615 over the competition.
The router was sandwiched in the box next to two antennas, an Ethernet cable, a power adapter, and a CD-Rom filled with software that might has well been labeled spam. No drivers were needed and none were included as this wouldnt be something that would be installed on a computer. Documentation also came in the form of digital media on the CD, but these days its the norm. Manufacturers are trying to save on the costs of printing manuals and rightly so. Save the paper and besides, if the products youre buying are for a computer then digital guides and manuals make sense to me. No sense in being sentimental at the expense of the environment.
I screwed on the adjustable antennas, set it up next to my modem, gave it life and waited to see what would happen. Almost immediately the router came to life and there was Internet. I hardwired my computer initially and no configuration was necessary to surf the World Wide Web. However, wireless was a different matter, and besides being a great firewall protecting you from the bad guys wireless is the reason I even got this in the first place.
Some configuration was necessary to secure my newly created network. Connectivity to the router via an Internet browser was easy, and the router software had different levels of offerings, depending how far youre ready to roll up your sleeves. For those not so familiar with networks and comfortable with configuring them there is an Internet Connection Setup Wizard which guides you one step at a time in configuring your router and securing it from the world outside of your network. If experience is on your side you may manually configure all settings from securing your router with a password, to inventing an SSID (your network name), to changing your routers IP Address, to securing your wireless network with a password and everything in between. So much was available that its impossible to describe everything here without rewriting the manual. But everything went without a hitch down to rebooting the router with the click of my mouse.
The router itself allows for more wireless connections than I would ever need. Sadly, I dont even know how many that would be, but too many would just jam the pipes and everyone might as well get a 56k modem. Besides, if you need so much connectivity your Internet provider will frown upon you, no doubt, and there will be bigger headaches than how to connect your 278th computer to the network. So not a problem there. Youre given the flexibility of hardwiring up to four computers to the router along side of your wireless connections if you should choose. A reset button at the rear will restore settings to factory defaults should you roll your sleeves up too far.
Lights on the face of the DIR-615 keep you informed of whats going on. You have your basic green D-Link light promoting the product you just purchased. Basically, if youve got power to the router, the D-Link light shines back at you. Ironically, there is also a light designed for just this purpose: the Power LED, as it's described in the manual. It
um, lets you know youre powered on. Okay. Moving down the line youll be informed if your router is ready with another light (a circle with a triangle inside -- the Status LED). The Internet LED will let you know if you have connection on the Internet port. If it blinks youre good data is transmitting. Youll also have a light (WLAN LED) informing you that wireless connectivity is on tap and further down four more lights correspond with each of the four manual entries for a wired network in the rear. If something is connected the light will turn green. No connection, no light. And last, but not least is your Internet Status LED. Green is good, red and youd better check your Internet connection. Easy to read, simple to understand, and futuristic-looking with the nicely designed green lights on a brushed aluminum background surrounded by the black body of the router itself. This router looks sharp.
One thing you may want to check is that you have the most recent Firmware installed. Out of the box the router is a few revisions behind the current 2.24 version. Firmware is basically the software that makes your router run and its also the web page that you interact with while configuring your router. It may fix a few flaws, make your router more secure, and add functionality and features to what you can do with your router. Not a must, but definitely a benefit. I also learned that there are two different revisions of this product. Revision A and Revision B. I guess at some point something was changed about the router that made one function slightly different than the other all while wearing the same DIR-615 model designation and thus making it a newer model and requiring a new ID of some sort. Thats especially true when talking about the Firmware mentioned above, as Revision A is only at Firmware 1.10 and most likely not compatible with Revision B Firmware. I havent, and wouldnt, try updating the Firmware designed for the wrong revision as doing so may turn my router into a seventy dollar doorstop if the software isnt smart enough to recognize that youre trying to update the wrong version of the router.
I didnt test the range of my router [its on my list of things to do], but it works anywhere in my house, and even in the immediate surroundings of it (ie. Either of the front and back yards). As for the included and highly optional software, please see my review of the D-Link Wireless N USB Adapter. Install it and you might as well format your hard drive. It's helpful, but not necessary and it's nothing that you can't do with your router via your browser. It's almost like an advertisement for you to buy a product that has nothing to do with D-Link as the software is sold separately by another maker and is not even mentioned in the router's manual. Do yourself a favour and skip it, or install it on a computer you're about to throw out, if you must.
With its sleek looks, great price, and ease of use this is the transition to a wireless network that I have been waiting for. Not only am I wireless, but putting a router between my computer and the outside world grants me a firewall that will keep the good guys in and the bad guys out of my computer and network. Its a small price to pay to not only go mobile (wireless), but to keeping your computer, at the very least, secure. And I havent even mentioned how well this router compliments my D-Link Wireless N USB Adapter.
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Amount Paid (US$): 69.99
Driver Availability: Windows, Linux, and Mac