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Closing Thoughts and Conclusions

As it has done in the past, D-Link is pushing ahead of the pack by introducing new technologies into the extremely cost-sensitive consumer networking market. They're doing the right thing by going after the early-adopter crowd, who won't mind paying the premium price that the 4300 commands - as long as the product delivers the goods.

In the 4300's case, the "goods" are upstream QoS (GameFuel) and gigabit Ethernet, which D-Link feels will both be valued by gamers / early adopters. I am not an on-line gamer, so can't speak to whether D-Link's GameFuel technology really helps for that application. But while the automatic upstream QoS did help in my VoIP / FTP test, I think some downstream QoS (even if it's just bandwidth limiting) is needed as well to really provide glitch-free performance for real-time applications.

On the other hand, you don't really have to squint so much to see the benefit for the 4300's gigabit Ethernet switch - provided, of course, that you have machines with GHz-speed processors, enough memory and gigabit Ethernet adapters to go along with it. Having multi-megaByte files to transfer around will help, too, although that's probably not a problem for most folks given the number of iPods flying off the shelves.

So for now, the 4300 has a unique set of features that can provide real value to buyers with the right set of problems. The question is whether it's worth it to shell out about 2 times the cost of a DI-624 and get the benefit today. Or wait for the relentless press of competition that will take what's unique and sexy and grind it down into the me-too commodity that state-of-the-art products always seem to become.

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