Linksys Wireless-N Broadband Router with Storage Link WRT160NL
A router that lets you share USB memory across your network
+ Decent-quality router
+ Some interesting extra features
- Basic set-up is simple but tweaking is more complex
- Storage options add premium to price but difficult to use
If you’ve got a broadband connection and more than one computer, it makes sense to get a router. Competition is high in this field so manufacturers are tweaking their devices to add extra value. This one comes with a USB port to plug in memory and disks, so you can share files across your network.
Aside from the added USB port, this is a basic but proficient router. Internet connection is via Ethernet so you’ll need to already have an Ethernet modem – cable connections usually come with these but, with ADSL broadband, you may need to buy one (expect to pay around £30). There are four Ethernet ports for creating a wired network (or you could plug it into a HomePlug adapter), and it offers 802.11n wireless compatibility, with encryption up to WPA2 standard.
On the Wi-Fi side, we didn’t get the best signal out of the device – its twin-aerial system cuts a corner or two when compared to some of the three-aerial 802.11n systems we’ve tested. Its overall network quality will depend on how you use it, but it performed very well with HomePlugs.
Ease of use
The router features Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) for adding compatible network devices, so you don’t have to remember passwords. The installation wizard on the CD means that even the most clueless technophobe should be able to get it up and running. Using the option to add USB storage to the device isn’t as simple as it ought to be, though. There’s nothing in the quick start guide – you have to delve into the digital manual on the installation CD. From here, you can set up an icon to access the storage but it’s a convoluted set-up. The web-based router configuration for tweaking your settings isn’t particularly friendly either, but then they rarely are.
Value for money
While this is far from expensive, you’re paying extra for the storage connection. Considering how clumsy and cumbersome it is to use, especially when compared with Network Attached Storage (NAS) drives, its questionable whether it’s worth it. But if you’ve got spare USB storage lying around and your internet connection already comes via an Ethernet cable, you can enjoy some sophisticated features from a reasonably priced package.