- Fast, simultaneous 2.4-GHz/5-GHz nets
- USB drive sharing; deep routing features
- No wireless range extension
Support for simultaneous top-performing 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz Wi-Fi nets, superior router features, and USB hard-disk sharing send this Linksys to the head of the class.
At $200–just $50 more than many single-band gigabit routers–and with USB drive sharing as a bonus, this router can support 2.4-GHz legacy devices and 5-GHz clients simultaneously.
In tests with Linksys’s new DMA2200 Me?dia Center Extender, 1080i video streamed smoothly and reliably from PC to TV in 5-GHz mode, but exhibited frequent dropouts and pauses in 2.4-GHz mode.
In overall speed and range, the Linksys outperformed five other routers that we tested at the same time. Like its single-band sibling, the Wireless-N Gigabit Router WRT310N, it has deep routing features, including application-level QoS, port forwarding/triggering for network services and gaming, and URL/keyword filtering for parents.
The dual-band Linksys WRT600N also has IPv6 support, as does the Apple Airport Extreme Base Station With Gigabit Ethernet. (The Apple supports both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, too, though not simultaneously.) But whereas the AirPort Ex?treme has a single LED on the front, the WRT600N ups the Poindexter quotient with umpteen flashing indicator lights.
A button at the top of the Linksys Dual-Band is intended for use with the Wi-Fi Protected Setup feature that other Linksys routers possess; but at this writing the WRT600N doesn’t support WPS. (Linksys says that a firmware update due sometime this summer should activate it.)
You can configure the router manually through a standard Web interface, or via Linksys EasyLink Advisor (LELA), a desktop application that comes with all new Linksys routers. Though LELA is very good, the WRT600N has so many features it doesn’t cover that you’ll probably need to use the browser interface anyway.
The first thing we did after using the setup utility was to identify users and shared folders for our attached hard drive, which can be formatted as FAT32 or NTFS.
A setup that relies on drive sharing via USB won’t match the performance of a dedicated gigabit ethernet NAS drive, but it’s a great option for home users who have an old drive lying around. You can even set up an FTP folder on the drive, for remote access.
We would have liked to see USB printer-sharing support as well, but overall the Linksys Dual-Band WRT600N is the router to beat.