Home and small business users looking for a simple wireless-N broadband router are literally spoilt for choice although the majority of products provide a very similar set of features. The Linksys WRT350N offers that little bit extra as its integral USB port can be used to connect and share storage devices over the network.
There's more to this than meets the eye as the router also has a built in uPnP media server for streaming content to compliant media adapters and it runs an FTP server as well allowing files and folders to be remotely copied to and from the attached device using any FTP client. Linksys is promoting the WRT350N as four devices in one as along with the storage and media server features you have an 802.11n wireless access point and a four port Gigabit Ethernet switch.
The WRT350N adheres to the design principles of Linksys' standard wireless N routers so you have the unusual aerial cluster which comprises two standard aerials along with a large paddle shaped assembly in between them. Designed to increase range they can all be swivelled around easily and the unit can be positioned on its base or placed on its side using a small plastic stand. The four Gigabit ports are aligned at the rear alongside the WAN port which is a standard RJ-45 Ethernet port so you'll need a separate external cable or ADSL modem.
Installation is a swift process as you can follow the CD-ROM based tutorial that covers all cabling requirements. We connected a preconfigured intelligent ADSL modem to the WAN port and were up and running in minutes. The web interface is easy enough to navigate and it opens with a page for entering general network settings and ISP details if you're using a dumb modem.
We'll start with the storage features as these are the most interesting and you get a separate section in the web interface where you can view connected devices, share them, set up workgroup membership and enforce access restrictions. We tested with a range of storage devices which were all recognised immediately enabling us to create a network share by simply entering a suitable name for the selected partition. You then enter a workgroup name, add users and groups and decide who is allowed access.
The media server can be switched on or off and you can choose to scan the storage device for multimedia files which are then added to its database. For FTP services you enable the server, allow internal and Internet access separately and choose which folders on the USB device are to be made available. Share access is controlled at the group level and each can have read only or read/write access granted although anonymous access is not supported.