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Published on July 24th, 2012 | by Greg

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EnGenius ESR600H Router: Solid, Unexceptional

Routers are the most­ly-in­vis­i­ble nuts and bolts of the in­ter­net, hold­ing ev­ery­thing to­geth­er, send­ing your Net­flix and Youtube video traf­fic from one spot to an­oth­er, serv­ing as mon­i­tors and po­lice­man and moth­ers even. Stretched analo­gies aside, they’re pret­ty im­por­tant pieces of hard­ware, crit­i­cal for any home net­work. And when con­sid­er­ing which one to buy, you’ll want to bal­ance the usu­al pri­or­i­ties- price, speed, fea­tures.

We haven’t seen gear from them be­fore, but we were ini­tial­ly pret­ty im­pressed with the En­Ge­nius ES­R600H XtraRange Du­al-Band Wire­less-N Router. It looks sim­i­lar to smany oth­ers, with two large an­ten­nas and a fair­ly small foot­print and a sleek black, glossy ap­pear­ance. Set­up pro­ceed­ed as usu­al, with both di­rect wired con­nec­tions via gi­ga­bit eth­er­net as well as set­ting up a few dif­fer­ent de­vices to use wire­less-N and wire­less-G 802.11 con­nec­tions. iPhones, con­soles like the Xbox 360 and PS3, as well as Mac and PC lap­tops were set­up to use the net­work, and we test­ed out large file trans­fers as well as stream­ing video.

The re­sults were pret­ty de­cent, though not stel­lar- about ten per­cent or so slow­er than our oth­er cur­rent routers, though with sol­id video stream­ing per­for­mance. 300 Mbps is quite good, and like most re­cent routers, this one can run in both the crowd­ed but wide­ly-sup­port 2.4GHz band as well as the faster, less crowd­ed, but not al­ways-sup­port­ed 5GHz band. Top-end gear can the­o­ret­i­cal­ly sup­port 450 Mbps if you have adapters that will use it (few do, though we’ve seen some, in­clud­ing some with longer range). Com­pared to oth­er re­cent routers from Cis­co/Linksys and Belkin, two of our top-rat­ed mod­els, this one felt a bit less con­fig­urable, with few­er ad­min­is­tra­tive op­tions or tools. Weird­ly, mod­i­fy­ing most ba­sic set­tings re­quires a com­plete re­boot of the router, some­thing few oth­ers re­quire- not a big is­sue, but an­noy­ing nonethe­less.

Note that we did ap­pre­ci­ate the new firmware- most tests were run with the orig­i­nal man­u­fac­tur­er’s firmware but re­cent­ly an up­date did fix a few small bugs and of­fered at least a few boosts to speed, es­pe­cial­ly in the 2.4GHz band. The 100 mW of pow­er isn’t any­thing to laugh at, and we do like the built-in USB port for print­ers and hard disks- but we on­ly tried the lat­ter, which ap­peared to re­quire some soft­ware in­stal­la­tion, un­for­tu­nate­ly. Plus, we did find that sig­nal strength wasn’t pushed here- we were able to con­nect to two of the three routers men­tioned ear­li­er far­ther away than the En­Ge­nius. QoS (qual­i­ty of ser­vice con­trols for ad­vanced users who want to pri­or­i­tize traf­fic) al­so is very ba­sic; we missed open firmware like DD-WRT or Toma­to and their many op­tions for con­trol and con­fig­u­ra­tion.

But the price is rea­son­able- at just un­der $100, this is a com­pet­i­tive val­ue propo­si­tion against some of the big­ger names. We hope to see more from En­Ge­nius in the fu­ture, and al­ways ap­pre­ci­ate in­no­va­tion in the field- but this mod­el doesn’t quite bring enough to the table to rec­om­mend high­ly against a some­what-crowd­ed field of con­tenders.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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