Major features available/better on the DIR-505 but not on the DIR-506L
- Guest Zone
- Firewall settings with enable/disable for SPI and anti-spoof checking
- DHCP Reservation
- HTTPS for SharePort
- HTTPS for remote admin
- Better choices for DDNS (DLink/Dyndns)
- Better control for setting time/daylight savings dates
Major features available/better on the DIR-506L but not on the DIR-505
- Access to routing table
- Support for SNMP
- Separate inbound/outbound filtering
- Better MAC filtering
- Better DHCP control (lease time, primary/secondary DNS, primary/secondary WINS)
During most of my time with the product, I used the DIR-506L primarily either in the router or AP modes. Of course, when I switched from router mode to AP mode, router-related functions such as the DHCP server were automatically disabled. My IP addresses came from my public-facing router.
I tested switching to the Wi-Fi hot spot mode from the AP mode. Interestingly, this is a two step process. In the AP mode, all router-based functions are either disabled or the corresponding configuration pages don’t show up. Since I was in AP mode, the internet connection configuration page didn’t appear. To force it to reappear, I changed back into router mode, let the device reboot, and then connected to it wirelessly. Then, from the Internet Connection Configuration page, I was able to select WiFi Hot Spot from the Internet Connection type drop-down box. (Figure 6).
Figure 6: When you change your internet connection to Wi-Fi HotSpot, the DIR-506L scans for wireless networks.
After selecting a hotspot, my home network Penguin in the example above, you next configure security credentials for the hotspot, if necessary. Then the device reboots. Figure 7 shows that the Wi-Fi HotSpot configuration was successful, and that Penguin is now the WAN connection for the DIR-506L.
Figure 7: The DIR-506L is now configured as a router using my wireless network, Penguin, as its WAN connection.
SharePort on the DIR-506L is virtually identical to what you’ll find on the DIR-505. The only difference is that since I reviewed the 505, I now have an iPad. The iOS version has the same functionality as the Android version, but it appeared to do a better job at playback than the Android version. As with the Android version, the iOS version functionality is limited to playback and upload. Both apps also support folder view or media views (video, music, photos) of your files.
We didn’t test performance for the DIR-505 review. So for this review, I tested the DIR-505 and the DIR-506L at four locations in my condo: My office (where the devices are located), Living room, Dining room, and the most distant room, the kitchen. For the sake of comparison, I also tested throughput on my public facing router, a NETGEAR WNDR3800 at each of these locations.
For testing, I used Lan Speed Test V2.08 from Totusoft. I ran the test between an Asus netbook and a NAS that was connected to my network with a Gigabit Ethernet connection. At each location, I ran the test three times and averaged the results, summarized in Figure 8.
Figure 8: Performance results for three routers at four locations in my condo (Mbps)
Just to establish a baseline, I also tested performance with the netbook connected to my network with a 100 Mbps Ethernet connection. The average Write speed was 70.22 Mpbs and the average Read speed was 73.07 Mbps.
Looking at the chart yields some interesting conclusions. The DIR-506L outperformed the DIR-505 at every location for both Write and Read operations. The NETGEAR WNDR3800 significantly outperformed both D-Link devices except in the Kitchen where its performance dropped below both of the D-Link devices.
With a list price of $129.99 and an average online price of $99.99, the SharePort Go is going to appeal to a fairly limited market—folks who need a battery-powered portable router that can be run off of a USB port. Although I preferred the feature set, initial setup and form-factor of the DIR-505, it’s hard to argue with the superior wireless performance of the DIR-506L.
As I concluded in the DIR-505 review, SharePort's features are not really developed enough to be a deciding factor in purchasing a mobile router. Unless you need the battery-power feature or want the improved performance of the DIR-506L, plug-in routers are going to provide a better value. And for portable use, I'd save the money and go for a DIR-505.