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No surprises in the wireless performance department as EnGenius is yet another vendor that falls miles shy of the claimed 300Mbps. With a WPA2 encrypted short range connection we copied a 690MB video file from a PC on the LAN to the Vista system in 103 seconds for an average speed of 53.6Mbps. Signal strength also dropped significantly as distance increased, with the PC Card utility showing this falling by around fifty per cent with the laptop on the floor below the router.
EnGenius scores highly for features with its far superior web site filtering in comparison to the likes of Netgear. Whereas the latter only allows a simple blacklist of URLs to be created, the ESR-9710 uses policies to determine precisely what the selected systems are allowed to access on the Internet. You create a list of URLs from the Web Filter section and then use the Access Control feature to add systems to a policy which can be used to block access to all sites except those in your white-list. Usefully, you can create schedules to decide when a policy is active and also use them to merely log sites being visited or block access completely.
A MAC address filter can be used to deny or allow network access to listed systems and during rule creation the router displays the addresses of all known systems, along with their machine name, making it simple to pick the ones you want to control. Virtual servers allow you to assign public ports on the router to specific servers on the LAN whilst inbound filters can be used to restrict access for remote IP address ranges to selected internal systems. Once created these inbound filter lists can be assigned to virtual servers or port forwarding rules and also used to restrict remote administrative access.
There's more. WISH (Wireless Intelligent Stream Handling) can be used to prioritise wireless traffic whilst the StreamEngine feature measures your WAN uplink bandwidth and allows you to create more rules that prioritise selected application traffic. We're not convinced these are essential features but they could prove useful if VoIP figures strongly on your network. We also liked the extensive logging features which provide plenty of data on connected systems, details on firewall activity and web site access plus WISH and Internet sessions.
The EnGenius ESR-9710 undoubtedly delivers a whole heap of features which are almost identical to those on offer by D-Link's DIR-655. It's a tough call as they are very similarly priced although the DIR-655 does have an extra USB port and is covered by D-Link's remarkable 11-year warranty.