|At a Glance|
|Product||D-Link RangeBooster N Router (DIR-625)|
|Summary||Mid-range single-band two-antenna 802.11 draft-N router with subscription-based managed security service|
|Pros||• Very easy to set up
• Excellent routing performance
• Built-in automatic QoS
• Parental control and reporting through subscription-based managed service
|Cons||• 10/100 Mbps LAN ports
• Securespot 2.0 only partially effective at blocking web sites
• Currently no Mac thin client (coming this summer)
Whether you are shopping for your first router or are looking to upgrade to the latest 802.11 draft-N wireless technology, there are a lot of choices to sift through. At the premium end of the market, you have routers such as D-Link’s DIR-655 with three antennas and gigabit Ethernet LAN ports. The budget routers generally have two antennas that support 2T2R (two transmit, two receive) MIMO and typically LAN ports that support only 10/100Mbps Ethernet.
Recently, we rounded up six budget-priced draft-N routers and reached some fairly interesting conclusions. First, as Tim reported, "there really isn't that great a performance gain from the more expensive products when they are operated in their default 20 MHz bandwidth mode." Second, buying a budget router doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re scrimping on features.
Tim chose D-Link’s DIR-625 as the best overall choice from the group of six products reviewed. To recap briefly, the DIR-625 is one step up from D-Link’s draft-N entry-level DIR-615 (also included in the roundup) and features four 10/100 LAN ports, a Ubicom IP5100U CPU and Atheros’ xSpan AR5416/AR2144 3T3R chipset. For more details, check out the DIR-625 slideshow. The DIR-625 has built-in QoS (uplink only) that automatically classifies and prioritizes voice and gaming traffic.
In addition, the router, which turned in the highest routing performance speeds in the roundup, supports the advanced features found in the top of the line DIR-655, such as port forwarding, port triggering, filtering, and a feature I really like—DHCP reservation. The DIR-625 also is unique among all of D-Link’s routers because it is the first of their routers to support Securespot 2.0.
Securespot 2.0 is a subscription-based managed security service. Since we already covered the basic features of the DIR-625 as well as the routing and wireless performance, for this review, I’ll focus on Securespot 2.0 managed services.
Since this is Securespot 2.0, clearly there was a Securespot 1.0. In fact, Securespot 1.0 was available only on D-Link’s DSD-150 Securespot Internet Security Adapter—a device that plugged into your network between your cable/DSL modem and your router. Reading Bill Meade’s DSD-150 review, it was with some amount of trepidation that I jumped into Securespot 2.0. After all, Bill’s installation seemed like a nightmare.
Securespot 2.0 is quite similar to its predecessor with one major exception—it’s integrated into the DIR-625. You don’t have to do any special cabling to implement managed services. In addition, like its predecessor, the back-end service is provided by D-Link’s partner, Bsecure.
When enabled, Securespot 2.0 proxies web requests out to Bsecure for filtering according to content filters that you define for each computer on your local network. In addition, Bsecure can push out firewall rules to your router to automatically protect your network from "zero day" attacks. Optionally, you can choose to install the Bsecure thin client, which enables Pop-up blockers, Anti-Virus, and identity theft protection—all provided by McAfee.
Bsecure doesn’t use the same McAfee VirusScan application offered in retail. They use only the McAfee AV engine with their own drivers, to produce a much smaller download and reduce the footprint on the PC. They currently use the 5200 engine, which is the same one used by the McAfee retail product and updated with the same daily dat file updates from McAfee's server.
From a SOHO network management standpoint, the Securespot 2.0 concept is quite attractive. From a single console, you can control firewall rules, Internet access, content filtering, reporting of filter violations, and notification of violations. Though the central console has an updated, easier to use interface than Securespot 1.0, we uncovered some issues that indicate Securespot 2.0 is still a work in progress.