D-Link has done a lot more than add simultaneous support for both the 2.4-GHz and 5.0-GHz frequencies with its latest 802.11n router. The DIR-825 ($159 direct but as low as $129 online) offers a USB port for sharing a printer or storage device across a network, along with quality of service technology that prioritizes high-def video; it can even help you lower your energy bill. Although it doesn't deliver the best range, and the design is a bit behind the times, the DIR-825 is a strong choice.
Design and Installation
Measuring 7.6 x 4.6 x 1.2 inches, the DIR-825 is all white with the exception of a black band that wraps around its exterior, making it look somewhat dated compared to sleeker but more expensive simultaneous dual-band routers like the Linksys WRT610N ($169). The DIR-825 uses a simple program to guide you through the install. It took less than ten minutes, and included helpful extra prompts, such as whether to enable key features and configure security. All the other router features you'd expect (WPA2 encryption, built-in firewall) are here.
The DIR-825 supports simultaneous dual-band wireless networking in the 2.4-GHz and 5.0-GHz bands. We connected with a laptop over the 2.4-GHz band for Web browsing and watched the season premiere of Heroes on the Netflix Roku player over the 5.0-GHz band--at the same time--without any lag or stuttering.
On our Ixia Chariot tests, the DIR-825 clocked in at 108 Mbps from 5 feet in both the 2.4 and 5.0 bands. While that's quite fast, both speeds are about 20 Mbps slower than the Linksys WRT610N from the same range. Predictably, the speed fell dramatically from greater distances, thanks to the two antenna's low signal strength: just 68 Mbps in the 2.4-GHz band from 15 feet. The WRT610N, with three antennas, was able to maintain a much stronger signal, notching 100 Mbps from 50 feet.
D-Link uses HD Fuel technology to enhance media streaming by prioritizing traffic more intelligently than previous router models. While playing a hectic online gaming session in EA Sports' Madden NFL '09, a 1GB download of an AVI file on a MacBook Pro took about 10 minutes, about twice as long as usual, but the online game was smooth as silk. The similarly-equipped Linksys WRT610N can't touch the DIR-825's latency-reducing features, even though the WRT610N is technically a faster router.
5 feet - 108 Mbps (office)
15 feet - 51 Mbps (outside office)
50 feet - 22 Mbps (den)
100 feet - 8 Mbps (upstairs)
150 feet - 7 Mbps (upstairs hallway)
300 feet - 1 Mbps (upstairs far bedroom corner)
5 feet - 108 Mbps (office)
15 feet - 68 Mbps (outside office)
50 feet - 41 Mbps (den)
100 feet - 16 Mbps (upstairs)
150 feet - 15 Mbps (upstairs hallway)
300 feet - 8 Mbps (upstairs far bedroom corner)
SharePort and Green Ethernet
The DIR-825 offers two other cool innovations. A new technology, called SharePort, lets users network peripherals (such as printers and storage drives) through the router's USB port. This means anyone in your house can print over the network--although only one user can access a printer or USB storage device at the same time.
You have to install a separate utility for SharePort, but it only takes a few seconds to load, and it worked like a charm with an older HP PhotoSmart 7760 printer. While the USB port on the Linksys WRT610N can also be used to network a hard drive, it can't be used to network a printer or other peripherals.
D-Link also includes a power-saving technology that automatically shuts down Gigabit Ethernet ports when you turn off connected devices; it's cool to see the light for a port shut off after you turn off your laptop. The DIR-825 even monitors cable length, and uses less power if you use short cables.
Considering that the DIR-825 can be had for as little as $129 online, it's quite the bargain considering all of its helpful features and top-notch HD Fuel technology. While the Linksys WRT610N ($169 street price) has a sleeker design and better range, the DIR-825 offers better quality of service and unique power saving features.