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As dozens of ‘me-too’ products continue to crowd the Wi-Fi market, D-Link differentiates itself with its inexpensive AirPlus DI-614+ wireless router. Underneath its sleek, silver-and-grey styling, the unit houses an enhanced Texas Instruments 802.11b chip that supports a fast 22Mbps mode. Aimed at small office/home office users, the DI-614+ delivers ease of use, good performance and exceptional security. Unfortunately, we found its range and warranty disappointing.
The £139 (ex. VAT) DI-614+ offers a lot for the price. The unit sports four Ethernet ports and one WAN port for connecting a cable/DSL modem or an existing wired network. The device comes complete with a six-foot Ethernet cable, an AC adapter and grey, snap-in rubber feet that let you position the router vertically or horizontally. Unfortunately, the unit ships without any wall-mounting hardware. An illustrated Quick Installation Guide clearly explains how to set up the router, and the included CD contains a thorough 71-page electronic manual with step-by-step help for networking printers. Additionally, the product's two antennae rotate 360 degrees.
The easy-to-use, Web-based setup wizard holds your hand through the router configuration. After you add the type of IP connection (static, dynamic or PPPoE), the SSID info and the WEP encryption level, the router restarts and does the rest. Like other products, the DI-614+ comes with WEP security turned off, with an SSID of default, and with DHCP activated. We suggest you immediately change these parameters to more secure ones.
The Advanced screen of the Configuration Utility offers a host of security options. For example, you can create a virtual server for remote operations; restrict network access using MAC addresses; filter or block specific domains, URLs or keywords such as ‘XXX’ or ‘sex’; and set firewall rules for allowing or denying entry to your network. The DI-614+ also supports ultra-secure 256-bit WEP encryption, although you'll need D-Link hardware to take advantage of it.
In our labs' tests, the DI-614+ performed very well overall. It peaked at a strong 4.8Mbps in standard 802.11b mode, while in its proprietary 22Mbps mode bandwidth jumped to 6.3Mbps. However, you have to use a D-Link AirPlus DWL-650+ wireless CardBus adapter or AirPlus DWL-520+ wireless PCI adapter for this ‘turbo’ scheme to work. Despite being able to pump the bits, however, the DI-614+ had a shorter range than a typical Wi-Fi router in hands-on testing.
D-Link's service and support package for the AirPlus DI-614+ is better than most. It includes an impressive five-year warranty, but the coverage ignores the all-important AC adapter and cooling fan – these only carry a one-year warranty. If you do encounter problems, the company provides local-rate phone support for the life of the product, as well as manuals, FAQs and a series of useful training guides via its Web site.
All told, the D-Link AirPlus DI-614+ offers an innovative design, airtight security, features galore and excellent performance. It'd be a must-have for both home and office use if its range and warranty didn't fall short. However, if you can tolerate or work around these flaws, it's a strong product.