I spend an awful lot of my life online (too much if I’m honest), so having a reliable ADSL router with builtin wireless is very important to me. Over the past five years or so, I’ve been through a range of routers, never quite finding the perfect device. I’ve just picked up my fifth router, and will discuss it in a moment, but first, some brief comments on my past devices.
- A PC running Smoothwall, and then IPCop, connected to a 3Com wireless access point and a Speedtouch USB ADSL modem: This was back in about 2001-2002, and while it worked pretty well, it was very complicated compared to the integrated routers we have these days.
- A Draytek 2600G: Expensive, but well built and was far easier to live with than the PC solution. Unfortunately support seemed to dwindle, and mine started freezing for ten or twenty seconds at a time, which I couldn’t remedy, despite upgrading to the latest firmware, and doing a factory reset. Which reminds me – it was very picky about accepting firmware upgrades. Often it would just refuse to accept a new firmware upload. Very good in the early days though.
- A Zyxel 660HW: Cheap, and handled wired connections very well. Pity that its wireless was slow and unreliable.
- A Belkin 7633: I was tempted by this because it had a very good reputation with ADSL Max services here in the UK, due to its Broadcom 6348 chipset. Wireless was supposed to be less than great though. Ended up very impressed with both the wireless and ADSL Max performance, but it seemed to freeze up occasionally, and wasn’t happy with talking to my Xbox 360 over wireless through a switch (wireless connection to a Belkin wireless bridge, connected to the Xbox 360 through a NetGear switch). No firmware updates for almost a year either…
- My latest aquisition is a SpeedTouch 585, purchased from DSL Depot for the bargain price of £30 inc VAT and delivery. Basically it’s a similar chipset to the Belkin, but it hasn’t frozen up yet, and plays nicely with my Xbox 360. Wireless is good, and it seems far more configurable than the Belkin, although the user interface is quirky to say the least. The only issue I’ve had is that the DHCP didn’t cope when I tried to change the IP address of the router (it kept on giving out its old address as the default gateway), but it wasn’t that big a deal to change my IP addressing to match its default setting, and I suspect I could have fixed the issue if I spent long enough fiddling around with its command line interface.