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Wireless Reviews

Introduction

DIR-685 Xtreme N Storage Router

At a Glance
Product D-Link Xtreme N Storage Router (DIR-685)
Summary 2.4 GHz Draft 11n router with slow built-in NAS, too-small front panel LCD photo display and very noisy little fan.
Pros • Gigabit WAN and LAN w/ jumbo frame support
• Wire-speed Gigabit routing
• Wireless Guest zone
• NAS performs better and has more features than other router NASes
Cons • Fan screams like a banshee
• Screen too small
• FrameChannel won't work behind another router
• Membrane switch failed on review sample

It’s not uncommon to find networking manufacturers adding unique features to their products in an effort to stand out from the crowd. The Linksys by Cisco WRT160NL, Belkin’s N+ as well as D-Link’s DIR-825 all include USB ports to convert an attached USB drive to networked storage. And Belkin created a bit of buzz when it introduced its N1 Vision almost two years ago with its front panel display.

So in its search for buzz and differentiation, D-Link has mashed together a single-band draft 802.11n router, BYOD NAS and Internet-connected digital photo frame into a small desktop package designed to make only a small footprint on your desktop. Unfortunately, some poor design decisions result in a product that we definitely recommend you take a pass on.

The 685 sits vertically in a weighted metal base and has a total depth that’s just slightly over 2.5”. The top tilts slightly towards the rear to provide a better viewing angle and to reduce glare on the screen.

Figure 1 shows the front panel. The four way touch pad with a center “select” button is used to navigate through the menus, which include six top level functions:  Statistics; Status; WPS; Settings; Photos; and Frame Channel.

Front panel

Figure 1: Front panel

The Status menu provides information about what’s going on inside your DIR-685. You can see LAN, WAN and WLAN status, status of the internal hard drive (if you’ve installed one), and general router information. Figure 2 shows general router status. Note that in the lower left corner the “Internet On” status shows that the 685 has a live internet connection.

DIR-685 General Router Information

Figure 2: DIR-685 General Router Information displayed on the built-in LCD display

Figure 3 shows status of the internal 2.5" SATA hard drive that is up to you to buy and install.

Hard Disk Status

Figure 3: Hard Disk Status of the 2.5” SATA drive installed in the DIR-685

Figure 4 shows the rear panel of the DIR-685 with four switched Gigabit LAN ports and Gigabit Internet port, all of which are auto MDI/MDIX. Two USB ports allow you to add additional storage or connect to devices such as printers and scanners for the SharePort feature (more later). The Eject Button allows you to remove the drive (if installed). D-Link warns that you should dismount the drive by pressing the dismount button located below the drive door before ejecting the drive.

Hardware Overview - Rear Panel

Figure 4: Hardware Overview – Rear Panel

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