D-Link DIR-655: Draft-N Hotness

Since first getting broadband about 10 years ago, I’ve used more routers than I can count. Most were barely passable, but some where better than others. For the past year or so I’ve been using a Netgear WPN824, that was a solid performer except for the giant flashing blue LEDs on the top that illuminated my entire house and irritated me profusely (I had to just to prevent it from keeping me awake and it still didn’t block all of the light).

I recently received a D-Link DIR-655 and after resolving some initial connectivity issues with a firmware update, I’ve had a positive experience with it. In fact, after having used it extensively, I’ve concluded that it trumps my old Netgear in every way.

The 655 is the first router I’ve possessed to feature gigabit ethernet. Unfortunately for me, I only have one computer tethered to the router, so it doesn’t really amount to much, but I know this will be a huge boon for quite a few of you. Had something like this existed back in high school, it would have been quite beneficial to our LAN parties.

Like many of the routers currently emerging, the 655 is a Draft 802.11n unit. Its Xtreme N technology promises speeds up to 14x faster than current wireless G routers. While this number is debatable, I can firmly say there was a noticeable speed improvement.

More impressive than the speed gain, however, was the farther range that it provided. I’m not sure if it equates to the promised 6x range boost, but distance was far greater with the 655 and my MacBook Pro.

In fact, as I write this, I’m sitting on a bench in my backyard which is over 100-feet from the router through walls, wires and all sorts of other noise. I still have full bars and see only negligible degradation of speed. This is a feat that would have been out of the question with my previous router. The experience sort of makes me question, if Draft-N can be this much of an improvement, how great might N be once it’s ratified? The potential is exciting—to me at least.

One of the most distinctive features of the 655 is its StreamEngine. Developed by Ubicom, the 655’s intelligent QoS is able to prioritize Internet traffic in real-time. So VoIP calls take priority over web browsing, gaming over downloads, and so on. The system is quite efficient and provides a distinct performance gain over ill-equipped routers. It seems like the sort of no-brainer addition that would be included with every router (I guessing it’ll now probably be included with most future routers).

Priced at about $140, this is one of the most desirable consumer routers currently available. Its advanced feature set is great, but even greater is its ability to use those features without error. I’ve encountered plenty of routers that promised all sorts of wonderful things and seldom delivered to an acceptable degree. The D-Link DIR-655 is no such animal. It performs as it should and should please most home users—just be sure your firmware is up to date.

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