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Gadgets D-Link_DGL-5500_01

Published on January 31st, 2014 | by Greg

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D-Link’s DGL-5500 Gaming Router: An Interesting Compromise

About five months ago, we checked out one of the state-of-the-art routers at the time, a top-of-the-line D-Link model that offered plenty of performance, and an interesting cylindrical shape that made it stand out quite a bit from the crop of competitors. After all, 802.11ac is still a draft standard, but the playing field has narrowed a bit and most routers and manufacturers have reached a plateau in speeds. At CES, we saw some new hardware, but nothing that threatened to blow our socks off for a few months at least.

Which is why the D-Link DGL-5500 AC1300 Gaming Router is a bit of an odd duck. It actually takes a step back from the listed specs of the model we checked out before, their AC1750 Gigabit Router. That said, it does add some nifty technology called StreamBoost that proved pretty helpful, as well as some user interface improvements that were appreciated. And we did notice some increases to range and speed, especially when running the far-more-common 802.11n devices that make up the bulk of our laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

But it’s what is missing the first grabbed our attention, even beyond the slightly reduced specs on the 5Ghz AC band. We liked SmartBeam, or at least the idea, and missed it here- along with the now-absent USB 3.0 port, the change from cloud to local management, and the removal of guest networks. For many folks, these features won’t be noticed, but gaming routers are usually labeled such as they are typically a premium product for those first-movers and early adopters.

The trade-off is the StreamBoost tech, which might sound like a gimmick, but D-Link is clear about the advantages: it isn’t a typical quality of service (QoS) tool, “but a sophisticated Traffic Shaping engine intelligently manages bandwidth in ways traditional QoS engines can’t touch” that is “both app-aware and device-aware”. When you login to the router management backend, you are greeted with an interesting visualization mapping your local network, and there are definitely some cool ideas, like the crowd-sourced profile creation and cloud-based updating system. They might not be fully-baked yet, but gamers will certainly love one thing about this router- it did automatically prioritize traffic smartly, allowing us to stream Netflix and Hulu and game at the same time as downloading some large files, without choking, mostly by reducing download speeds when other intensive and more important tasks are detected.

Thus, it’s best suited for households with multiple folks who might be simultaneously using up your bandwidth, and especially those who are bandwidth-limited. We have a pretty good pipe, but tried to limit it a bit to simulate potential issues, and did see improvements over other routers when we really pushed our network hard. Granted, on balance, we’d prefer raw speed or range, and maybe even better manual controls (open source firmware, for instance) but there are certainly situations where automated packet analysis is useful at handling traffic bottlenecks. The D-Link DGL-5500 Gaming Router is reasonably priced at $140, looks good, and is easy to setup- available now, online and in stores.

 

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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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