A clever solution to those struggling wireless connections
Most routers tend to look pretty much the same: thin, black or grey boxes with antennas and blinking lights. To buck the trend, the D-Link DIR-645 is a simple black cylinder that looks sleek but also adds some interesting new features.
With faster broadband speeds now more common, the annoyance in home networks can often be the poor wireless signal that leads to disappointing downloads. Thick walls, the distance from router to device and interference from other wireless signals can all slow connections.
The DIR-645 uses the 802.11n 2.4Ghz wireless standard, which is cheaper to implement than the 5Ghz standard used in more expensive routers, but it's still a good choice for most home users. To get around the problem of signal interference, it uses a ‘smartbeam' system: six antennas inside the router follow and track connected devices, aiming the wireless signal towards them. The idea is that by directing the signal towards the device, the quality of its connection will improve even if it's relatively far away.
There are also four network ports for wired connections and a USB port for connecting printers or external hard disks which can then be shared over the network. It's IPv6-ready, meaning it will be future-proof.
Setup was easy enough, with the supplied CD taking us through the steps needed to get the router and its smartbeam technology up and running. Once installed, connection speeds were good and the DIR-645 performed well over long distances, even with several thick walls between the router and our test devices.
The DIR-645 performed admirably when up against a standard ISP-supplied router. From one or two rooms away and at shorter distances it was noticeably faster, although over longer distances (more than a few metres) there was a drop in speed, though less than with the ISP-supplied router.
At £80 the DIR-645 is more expensive than a lot of other routers, but the extra features and smartbeam technology make it worth the expense. It does a good job of improving the speed of a wireless connection and is more stylish than most other routers.
Read more reviews
The ‘smartbeam' technology works very well and this stylish router is well worth the money
Stylish design; faster wireless connection; supports latest IPv6 standard
Still struggles over distances
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