Review Price £46.36
D-Link DIR-615 Wireless N Home Router
D-Link's latest Wireless N Home Router not only hits the sub-£50 sweet spot but also comes with the company's enormous 11-year warranty. The latter does seem rather excessive but as we observed in our review of D-Link's DKT-810 this is a sign of the company's confidence that the router can be upgraded well into the future.
The DIR-615 is a slim-line slab of plastic incorporating a draft 2.0 802.11n wireless access point along with a quartet of switched Fast Ethernet ports at the rear. If you're shifting big files around on the LAN and want Gigabit Ethernet then you'll need to look towards products such as D-Link's DIR-655 or Netgear's WNR854T although this will push the asking price close to the £100 mark.
Internet access is facilitated by a Fast Ethernet port so you'll need to source a suitable cable or ADSL modem. D-Link takes a leaf from Trendnet's and Belkin's book as the router has a useful array of status indicators across the front panel. They'll tell you when the Internet connection is good, which Ethernet ports are connected and whether the wireless access point is active, but there's nothing to show whether wireless security is implemented.
With home users as the primary target market installation needs to be as simple as possible and D-Link makes a fair stab at this. A CD-ROM tutorial steps nimbly through all cabling conundrums, provides a selection of Internet connection types and sensibly offers to set up that all-important wireless security. However, bear in mind that it doesn't attempt to secure administrative access which, by default, is not password protected.
For wireless security you have WEP and WPA/WPA2 although home users are unlikely to bother with the WPA Enterprise setting which requires an external RADIUS authentication server. WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) using push button or PIN methods is available and you can use a wizard to set this up or configure it manually. MAC address filtering is provided for both WLAN and LAN users and you can pick existing systems from a drop-down list and decide whether to allow network access to those listed or deny it to all of them.
There are no surprises in the wireless performance department as this is another router that delivers well below the advertised top speed - it's about time vendors stopped quoting 300Mbps on their wireless N products as this is simply not achievable in the real world. We tested using D-Link's DWA-140 wireless N USB adapter in a 1.6GHz Fujitsu Siemens notebook running Windows XP SP2. We had no problems with installation and found the 150cms long extension cable and weighted desktop USB port rather useful as it enabled us to place the adapter in a variety of positions. You also get a handy utility that supports both XP and Vista, scans the network for access points and helps set up encrypted wireless connections.