D-Link DHP-1320 Wireless N PowerLine Router

At first glance, the D-Link DHP-1320 Wireless N PowerLine Router looks like any other wireless router. It's about the same size as a paperback book and features dual antennas, Ethernet ports, plus various buttons, switches, and status lights. The first clue to its additional functionality is the lack of a power brick. The power supply is integrated in the chassis, allowing for PowerLine connectivity as well as Ethernet and Wireless N.

Many Wireless N routers have one WAN port and four LAN Ethernet ports. The DHP-1320 has only three LAN ports, but this makes room for a USB port. This port supports SharePort, and can be used to attach any number of devices that can then be shared among all the PCs on the network, including USB hard drives, printers, multi-function printers, and scanners.

Windows Connect Now (WCN) automates the process of entering the router name and other settings when configuring a wireless connection on a PC. While not all wireless adapters support WCN, with those that do, the process of setting up a wireless network becomes as nearly automatic as anyone could wish. Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) is another standard that enables very simple configuration of wireless connections. Recent D-Link PC cards and USB wireless adapters support both standards.

When installing the Powerline Router, the first step is to find an open electrical outlet โ€” no surge protectors allowed โ€” and then run the software on the included CD-ROM before plugging in and connecting the router. After selecting your language, you can run a software wizard to set up the router, run the setup software for the SharePort, or access the manuals.

The router installation wizard steps you through the process of connecting the PC to the network, plugging in and connecting to the router, configuring the router and configuring the network, and also configuring the Powerline networking functions. Once this is completed, you have the best of all three networking standards. Powerline over the existing electrical wiring in the building, Wireless N, and traditional Ethernet. By using Powerline adapters such as those in the D-Link DHP-307AV kit, you can connect distant parts of a home or office that would otherwise be tough to reach without running Ethernet cables across your home.

In addition to enabling networking and sharing of USB devices, the DHP-1320 also includes a full-featured firewall with excellent functionality. Not only does it provide protection from intruders, it supports running Web and other servers that are available on the Internet, filtering out bad Web sites, IPv6 networking, and dynamic DNS. This goes well beyond what most home users need, and it's enough to enable a small business to run everything they'd need to host their own Web and email servers and keep the network secure.

The DHP-1320 offers excellent speed and range over wireless, as well as over the Powerline connections. I observed 100Mbps over the Powerline connection, with no drops in speed from interference or long distances between plugs. I got about 70Mbps via Wireless N, even between devices more than 100 feet apart. The Wireless N connection supports up to 300Mbps; however, since the Internet connection, other wired Ethernet connections, and Powerline connections are limited to 100Mbps, the higher data rate applies only to USB devices attached directly to the router. Using a USB hard disk, I was able to get almost 150Mbps moving files to or from the disk over 802.11n Wi-Fi. A higher speed disk might yield a higher network data rate.

Both WCN and WPS worked flawlessly in my tests and enabled extremely easy setup of the wireless connection between a PC and the router. Adding the DHP-1320 to an existing Powerline network was also very easy โ€” only two button presses required.

The DHP-1320 is easily configured using the internal Web interface. The built-in help functions work well and provide enough information for inexperienced users to figure out how to set up the system. At a street price of about $130, the DHP-1320 offers all the functionality one would hope for in a wireless router, along with firewall capabilities, Powerline networking, and outstanding ease of use.

[ This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of PCWorld. ]

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