Conversion to the Cloud is glorious, inevitable and inescapable. This is the line being touted by just about every technology hardware and software maker and it is what Linksys infamously declared with the launch of its Cisco Connect Cloud service moments before it was enforced upon all owners of the company's latest routers to a cacophony of complaints. After the hullabaloo died down it turned out CCC is actually rather good and Linksys is just the first brand of router going down this path. The next is D-Link…
The 'DIR-826L Cloud Gigabit N600' is the router D-Link has chosen to headline its move into the Cloud, something it believes will demystify networking for the masses. It is a dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) 802.11b/g/n router (no 802.11ac) which D-Link claims is good for a combined theoretical bandwidth of up to 600Mbit. That said D-Link's hugely impressive SmartBeam range and performance boosting technology (seen in the excellent DIR-645) is absent. It also has just two internal antennas for both bands whereas the DIR-645 had six for just a single band. Colour us confused.
Despite this IPv6 compatibility is in there (it is just about standard on most new routers), along with WPS and WPA/WPA2 security. The stock four Gigabit Ethernet ports and one USB port (the latter to connect a printer or storage directly to the network) make an appearance too, though we can't help but wish manufacturers would've increased this to two or three by now.
Looking to make up for this rather modest hardware, however, is the company's debut 'mydlink' Cloud service which allows remote management of your router from any location as well as opening up access to media from mobile apps. More of which later.
Looking at the DIR-826L will bring about déjà vu. It uses exactly the same Darth-Vader-Pringle-tube design as the DIR-645 and that is no bad thing. This cylindrical form factor means a very small yet stable footprint which is far more practical than the tottering-rectangles-on-stands approach adopted by most router makers. We wish this would become the defacto form factor for routers from now on.