Older wireless technologies are simply too slow and congested to handle the increasing demands of today's bandwidth sensitive applications.
The DIR-880L is an optimum performance solution to handle bandwidth demanding applications for your home or small business network.
• Advanced Wireless AC beamforming dramatically enhances wireless signal strength and throughput
• Dual Band Wireless AC1900 (600+1300) technology
• Gigabit WAN and LAN ports for high-speed wired connections
• USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports to connect storage drives and printers for sharing
• Built-in VPN Server
• Band steering efficiently balances the data load between the wireless bands
• Airtime fairness optimally adjusts the data rate of wireless clients for the best performance
• Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)
• New D-Link web configuration interface with mobile support
With D-Link's growing portfolio of "connected" devices, all utilising their mydlink cloud service to give you remote anywhere-anytime access to your data and oversight of your physical premises, this is a great little gateway device. However, despite the pricetag it *is* a mid-range device and as such has many good points, but a few caveats as well.
This unit is a dual-band router, meaning it will communicate with 802.11b/g/n devices on the 2.4GHz band, and 802.11a/ac devices on the 5GHz band. Combining the two bands' maximum transfer rates - 600Mbps and 1300Mbps respectively - gives you the "1900" used to identify the family of devices. While not the fastest unit our there, in its price range it sits fairly high up in the food chain. With the beamforming active, the unit will use the three external, upgradeable antennas to triangulate on devices that are connected and shape the signals it emits to ensure maximum possible signal is aimed at those devices. This is brilliant for fixed devices such as game consoles and PCs, but the downside of this is that mobile devices can suffer from patchy signals if they are doing large data transfers while in motion, moving out of the core of the shaped signal path before the unit has time to adjust and refocus the beam.
Testing this, I used my smartphone and some freely-available WiFi managment apps to map out signal strengths at various locations. What really surprised me was that using 802.11n up close it was actually quite a bit slower than the DSL-2890AL we use as our main internet gateway, at the same distance. At least, that's how it appeared when just passively observing the ambient signal strengths. However, as soon as I connected to the device, the signal strength shot up and so did the speed - both improving by almost 30% within seconds and staying that way until I disconnected. That beamforming technology really did its stuff! What surprised me even more was that the performance stayed impressive at longer ranges, of up to 30m through up to three internal walls. I performed the same tests on the 802.11ac 5GHz band, and while band strength was lower than the 2.4GHz band, transmission speeds were significantly higher. I had no trouble watching HD video on my tablet and phone... as long as I didn't move around too much.
Aside from the usual gigabit ports, this unit also carries a USB 2.0 port on the rear, plus a USB 3.0 port on the side, for sharing hard-drives, printers, etc across the network. Perfect for a household that has a neat USB printer that isn't network-capable, or for the creation of a small personal LAN for movies and music. I tested this unit with a couple of portable hard-drives I have, and while it worked well enough, I felt the SharePort software is far, far below the standard it should be. Sharing data and expanded media devices over LAN is mature tech, and should not look this shoddy. I won't use it, simple as that... I enjoy listening to my music collection, and have better ways to access it. Streaming that music is still possible though - the router does have DLNA UPnP capability which means it will hook up with your XBox nicely, but the lack of an iTunes server onboard means you won't get it working too well with your iDevices. A slight downside, and one that could potentially see its appeal in the market dampened somewhat.
The out-of-the-box firmware is basic, but it is a very new device and there has already been a new firmware version - v1.01b09 - so there is hope for more features being integrated. Even so, this is one of the nicest interfaces I have seen from D-Link in the last 5 years. This means that even for utterly new users, it is fairly easy to get to grips with and there is a larger visually-cued style to it that makes issue really stand out. (Big red crosses across diagrams of connections do tend to get noticed.) The onboard "wizard" is a very simple step-by-step and will take you through all you need to know. However if you don't want this unit acting as your internet gateway - preferring instead to use this as a wireless gateway and device-port to an existing network - then you can abort the setup and configure it manually fairly easily. Almost everything is set to acceptable defaults, and you need do little more than set up and secure your WiFi.
While configuration is easiest using a browser, there is D-Link's QRS Mobile app for iOS and Android for those who either don't have a desktop device or just love the geek factor of walking around the house while configuring the system. Just don't misplace the little card and/or sticker that came with the unit that shows you the preconfigured WiFi network name (SSID) and default password. Without those, you won't get in without wiring the unit into your LAN and going in via browser. After you are in, you may want to consider going 'cloud' with it...
Signing up to the mydlink cloud service is fairly easy, and once you are connected you have remote access to all of your connected D-Link cloud-enabled devices - and there's quite the growing ecosystem of them, from IP cameras, routers, gateways and an expanding list of "Smart Home" devices too, such as lighting controls etc. It would not be a big leap to think that soon we will see 3rd-party devices and solutions coming out that hook into the mydlink framework seamlessly and giving you even more interaction with your environment. An all-pervasive Internet of Things - for good or bad.
Overall, for those who want something that does the job, and does it fairly well, without blowing out the budget... this is a unit I would consider worth checking out. For $40 less than the DSL-2890AL it's not a HUGE step down in price, or power, but it *is* cheaper. It's biggest issues are mostly software, so that may get solved with a future firmware update if enough feedback is given requesting such. I'm certainly not turning my nose up at it, because it's a neat little unit with potential. I would have expected it to be a bit cheaper though - around the $309.99 area for the feature-set you get out of the box.
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