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Inside - more

The key component info for the N66 and two similarly designed TRENDnet adapters is in Table 1 below. The TEW-680MB is more similar to the EA-N66 in that it supports both bands. Although the TEW-680MB has the advantage of an integrated four-port Gigabit Ethernet switch, it doesn't support AP mode. The TEW-687GA supports the 2.4 GHz band only. All three devices, however, use Ralink's RT3883F dual-band three-stream N AP/Router SoC.

  ASUS EA-N66 TEW-680MB TEW-687GA
Wireless SoC Ralink RT3883F 802.11n 2.4/5GHz 3T3R 450/450Mbps Single Chip AP/Router SoC Ralink RT3883F 802.11n 2.4/5GHz 3T3R 450/450Mbps Single Chip AP/Router SoC Ralink RT3883F 802.11n 2.4/5GHz 3T3R 450/450Mbps Single Chip AP/Router SoC
Ethernet Realtek RTL8211CL Integrated 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Transceiver Atheros AR8327 7-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch Realtek RTL8211CL Integrated 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Transceiver
RAM 128 MB 64 MB 32 MB
Flash 8 MB ? MB 4 MB
Table 1: Component summary and comparison

For comparison, here's a photo of the TEW-680MB's board.

TRENDnet TEW-680MB inside

TRENDnet TEW-680MB inside

And the TEW-687GA's.

TRENDnet TEW-687GA board

TRENDnet TEW-687GA board

ASUS says it has patented its "orthogonal" antenna design. The photo below taken from the FCC ID filing shows that the dual-band antennas are indeed inside the adapter's pyramid arms. The 45° angle is a good compromise to optimize reception from both horizontal and vertical planarized AP and router antennas. And the 120° placement appeared to do a good job of making the adapter immune from directional effects in our testing.

ASUS EA-N66 board bottom

ASUS EA-N66 board bottom

Setup and Features

The adapter has a default IP address of 10.0.1.1, which is printed along with login username and password (admin/admin) in tiny, faint gray type on one of the adapter's bottom edges. But ASUS has nicely provided the N66 with a local DNS redirect (www.asusrouter.com) and equipped it with a WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) button.

Note that this redirect works only for the computer connected directly to the adapter and in the Bridge and Repeater modes only. If you have the N66 set to AP mode, you will need to access it via the IP address it pulls from your LAN's DHCP server.

So to make initial contact, I pressed the WPS buttons on it and the RT-N66U Dark Knight that was its test partner. It completed the WPS session quickly with a WPA2/AES secured connection. I was then able to log in by using the asusrouter.com URL and get the Network Map screen below. Although both bands on the router were enabled and had different SSIDs, the EA-N66 apparently preferred to connect to the 5 GHz band.

ASUS EA-N66 bridge mode Network Map

ASUS EA-N66 bridge mode Network Map

Clicking on the router and client devices on this screen switches the screen to display information about those parts of the network. None of the screens, however, show information about signal strength or link rate for the connection in either this or Repeater mode.

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