One of the first low-cost, dual-band routers, the TrendNet TEW-672GR 300Mbps Dual-Band Wireless N Gigabit Router ($99.99) is a smart buy for those who care more about performance than style. Although it's not quite as fast as high-end routers from Linksys and D-Link and doesn't have as many frills, it costs about half as much.
Home office and small business users who are design-conscious might balk at the dull-black aesthetic of the TEW-672GR. It sports three large antennas and, at 6.4 x 5.9 x 1.0 inches, it's relatively compact. To save power, the TEW-672GR has a tiny switch for shutting off the Wi-Fi signal. However, there are no extra frills, such as USB port for adding a printer or external storage.
Setup and Features
Setting up the router using the included CD program was pretty painless; however, adjusting settings after the fact is not as intuitive as with theLinksys WRT610N. The TEW-672GR comes with a range of security features, supports Gigabit Ethernet for fast wired transfers, and has a WPS button for configuring the router's security in Windows.
Inside, there is some brand new technology at work. TrendNet uses GreenNet (hence the GR in the product name) to use less power for shorter cables and power down Ethernet ports automatically and enter a standby mode when idle. The company claims these features reduce power consumption by 70 percent.
As a dual-band router, the TEW-672GR operates in both 802.11a/n and 802.11g/n simultaneously. This means you can use the A/N mode for more reliable media access and the G/N mode for data. To test its performance, we used a Logitech Squeezebox Boom extensively to stream music while also downloading game demos and performing a 2GB backup to an HP MediaSmart server, and never saw any hiccups.
On the other hand, the TEW-672GR can't match the Quality-of-Service features of the D-Link DIR-855. When we streamed the movie Domino to a Playstation 3 over Wi-Fi while copying files between two laptops, the movie stuttered and paused over the connection.
The TEW-672GR's top connection speed in the 5-GHz band (100 Mbps at 5 feet) is 11 Mbps slower than the average. Other routers, such as the Linksys WRT610N, also tend to run faster--up to 120 Mbps--and have slightly better range, sometimes connecting beyond 600 feet.
The TEW-672GR worked with a Mac Mini just fine, but a Mac-compatible TrendNet dual-band client adapter won't be available until early February. It's a minor point: more and more notebook users are skipping the adapters and just using built-in Wi-Fi. The main disadvantage is speed, since the matching adapter works best with the router.
For anyone who just needs Wi-Fi access and knows that simultaneous 802.11a and 802.11n can solve bandwidth bottlenecks, the TEW-672GR is a good budget choice. The $149 Linksys WRT610N is faster, but this $99.99 bare-bones router is priced just right--especially for those who need widespread Wi-Fi and nothing else.
G/N (2.4 GHz)
5 feet: 75 Mbps (office)
15 feet: 72 Mbps (outside office)
50 feet: 39 Mbps (den)
100 feet: 7 Mbps (upstairs)
150 feet: 10 Mbps (upstairs hallway)
300 feet: 5 Mbps (upstairs far bedroom corner)
Mixed mode A/N (5 GHz)
5 feet: 100 Mbps (office)
15 feet: 72 Mbps (outside office)
50 feet: 40 Mbps (den)
100 feet: 24 Mbps (upstairs)
150 feet: 12 Mbps (upstairs hallway)
300 feet: 6 Mbps (upstairs far bedroom corner)