Iâ€™ve been wireless for about a year now and I have to say it is probably my favourite part of my entire computer set up. Quite simply, the convenience of configuring multiple computers from a single connection and being free to position them wherever is most convenient for you â€“ and not the electrician as has proved the case in the past â€“ is a godsend. It is the technological equivalent of the cordless phone, yet of greater importance because you use it all day. And with prices hitting rock bottom levels, you can afford to entertain your particular desire, be it surfing the web from the bottom of the garden or checking email from your converted basement office. Either way, this is technology worth investing in.
The problem arises, however, when it comes to making the choice of which product to go for. As you can see from our ADSL router group test (routers with built in modems) just about every manufacturer you have heard of, and many you havenâ€™t, has a product on the market, and in the case of stand alone routers there are even more. It really is a jungle out there.
So in an attempt to hack a path through this dense landscape of endless choice weâ€™re looking at the latest router to hit the TrustedReviews offices, an inexpensive offering from KCorp.
With a retail price of Â£55.21, the KLS-575 is cheaper than just about every competing product and both laptop and desktop wireless cards cost just a fraction over Â£30. For this money you get an 802.11g standard router (theoretically capable of transfers up to 54Mbits/sec) that is backwards compatible with the older 802.11b standard. It has a built in firewall, VPN and DHCP server and client support, connects up to 20 computers and offers 128bit WEP encryption so that files can be transferred with a reasonable amount of security. To be fair, these are all standard features that you will find on most routers, but it is good that KCorp hasnâ€™t skimped here to save costs.
Being brutally honest, straight out of the box, the KLS-575 does not look the most inspiring of devices. The design is little more than a black rectangular block with a screw in antenna and the usual array of power, WAN, WLAN, and LAN status lights. On the back there is one RJ-45 port for the 10/100Mbit Ethernet WAN connection and four 10/100 Ethernet ports for wired LAN connections. Slightly more unusual is the single USB port which could potentially be used to hook up a device like a printer directly to the router for shared use over the network, but sadly this is not currently enabled. But aesthetically, though the build quality is sound enough, the KLS-575 has a face only a mother could love, or perhaps a modern art critic.
The setup of the device for the average user would not be straightforward either because of poor manuals and quite simply misleading software. Basically, KCorp follows the trend these days of supplying a tiny black and white manual with even smaller text and bundling a more extensive manual on the driver CD. This is all well and good, but most of the nitty-gritty technical detail is only on the miniscule paper manual and the blurry graphics on the Adobe Acrobat formatted manual are far from confidence inspiring. There were also a handful of typos in both, although weâ€™re used to seeing this.