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Let's face it; for most of us routers aren't an item we lust after, but rather a necessity of the 'digital age' as ours seems to have become known. Generally they also include an ADSL modem and come part and parcel with a broadband subscription - end of story. However, if your ISP is anything like mine that router isn't exactly the most modern piece of tech in your house and with the growing prevalence of devices implementing Gigabit Ethernet (and warranting its use, a la NAS boxes) or 802.11n Wi-Fi it might just be time for an upgrade.
That's where the Asus RT-N16 wireless router steps in; catering to the routing needs of more modern connections. If you want an ADSL or cable modem built-in, this isn't the router for you, but there are plenty of situations when that shouldn’t be a problem.
Starting with its simplest aspects; the RT-N16 measures 216 x 162 x 41mm and weighs 470g - although I doubt the weight of a router has ever put anyone off buying one. At the device's rear are its power input, a pair of USB ports, an Ethernet port for hooking up the RT-N16 to your ADSL or cable modem, four Ethernet ports for sharing that connection with the rest of your home, and last, but not least, three antennae, for spreading the router's Wi-Fi about. That wireless comes, incidentally, in 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n (draft) flavours.
The two USB ports should prove useful when combined with the RT-N16's ability to share files on an external drive over its network ports. That becomes particularly useful when used with the built-in Enhanced Download Master. Despite its slightly silly name, this is actually very useful as it enables the router to download files over 'normal' HTTP, FTP or - perhaps most usefully - BitTorrent and save them to an attached USB storage device.
This functionality becomes doubly useful thanks to the RT-N16's provision of a UPnP media server. As such, media files stored on (or, more likely, downloaded to) an attached storage device can be streamed over the router's wired and wireless connections to a compatible device. Using the built in AiDisk feature these files can also be shared over the 'net, using a DDNS service provided by Asus - particularly useful if you need remote access to a file too large to email.
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