D-Link has thrown a few new features into the 825 to make it a bit more interesting. The first is "Guest Zone" capability (Figure 3). This feature creates a separate WLAN with its own SSID that allows wireless clients Internet access, but blocks LAN access to any wired clients (or wireless clients associated to the other SSID).
Figure 3: Guest Zone setup
There are separate zones for each radio and I verified that a client associated with the Guest Zone was not able to reach a wired client. If you decide that you want to allow access, you can check Enable Routing Between Zones and the Guest Zone becomes just like the normal WLAN. Just like the basic wireless access, Guest Zones can be turned on and off on a programmable schedule.
The other sweetener has also been rolled into all of D-Link's Xtreme N routers via new firmware. SharePort takes the USB 2.0 connector that D-Link has dutifully been including in most of its routers to implement Microsoft's WCN Flash Configuration method and enables it to act as a USB server.
The feature works for USB printers (including multi-function models) and USB storage (both flash and hard drive) only, so forget trying to share a USB camera or any other multimedia USB thingies.
SharePort takes these USB devices and allows clients that are running a Windows (2000/2003/XP/Vista 32-bit) utility to connect to them one-at-a-time over the network. The app sits in the System Tray and pops up notifications when new devices are detected.
To connect to a device, you just open the utility, point to a device and click the Connect pop-up. Figure 4 shows that you can connect a USB hub to make multiple devices available. Note that each system connecting to a device must have the proper drivers for that device loaded on it.
Figure 4: SharePort showing multiple devices
You can connect to multiple devices at once, but only one user at a time can connect to each device. If the device you want to use is in use, you can send a request to the current user as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5: SharePort requesting access to In Use device
The device user gets a pop-up as shown in Figure 6 and must release the device. You need to keep checking to see if the requested device is available, however, since a device release acknowledgement is not sent back to the requestor. If the device user isn't there to respond to the request, there is no override available.
Figure 6: SharePort request at In Use device
SharePort worked well on the Windows XP SP2 and Vista SP1 systems that I ran it on and I wasn't able to break it.
To check for performance, I ran iozone on a Maxtor OneTouch USB hard drive both directly connected to a system and connected via SharePort. Figure 7 shows that SharePort speed was about 25% of direct connect. This wouldn't bother you for printing. But it shows that SharePort isn't a substitute for a real NAS (or a directly-connected USB drive).