D-Link DIR-868L & DWA-182 Wireless AC Review

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DIR-868L Router Interface

 

D-Link’s ‘orange’ UI has been used for many years now has gone unchanged with in iteration. While a tad old, D-Link has put a lot of time and effort into this interface and in the intervening years since its first release it have honed to a razor’s edge. Like with any good router this UI is powerful, user-friendly, and fairly intuitive. This means even consumers who have never used a D-Link unit will be able to access and control their router with a very minimal learning curve.

As you can see, the basic design philosophy takes a very website-centric approach which uses both a horizontal and vertical menu system. The top ribbon consists of major five sections while the vertical menu is a fluid affair that changes in parallel with the chosen section.

Since D-Link offers so many features and abilities this can seem a tad overwhelming at first, but it is laid out in an easy to grasp manner. For example, if you want to either set up or modify the basic 868L’s configuration, the Setup tab would be the first place to look. Meanwhile, the Advanced tab holds some of the more esoteric features which enthusiasts may be looking for and the administration tools are under the Tools tabs. Makes sense, right?

The Setup tab has seven subsections: Internet, Wireless, Network, Storage, Media Server, IPV6, and MyDLink. The Internet section deals with connecting to a Wide Area Network or the Internet. D-Link has thoughtfully included both a step wizard and a manual option. The former is for those times when you just need a basic setup to get connected, whereas the manual is for more experienced users who know exactly how they want their router to connect to the Internet.

The Wireless section deals with configuration and tweaking the 2.4GHz 802.11N and 5GHz 802.11AC wireless networks.

D-Link’s Networking section is straightforward as well and allows for full control over the wired network configuration and DHCP server settings. D-Link covers all the basics including an easy to use ‘DHCP Reservation List’ which makes hard setting an attached devices IP address as simple as a few mouse clicks.

As its name suggests, the Storage section is a one-stop shop for modifying usage conditions and configuration of any attached USB devices. This includes creating a basic single drive network attached storage device. If you want to do more than adjust the basics, accessing the Tools section is required as the Storage section is more a brief setup and configuration page rather than a full blown options menu.

The Media page deals with turning on DLNA and iTunes servers, but in a very odd twist also deals with USB port configuration. Turning USB 3.0 on can interfere and degrade wireless coverage so unless you plan on using the 868L as a storage server we would recommend leaving this to its default of disabled.

IPv6 is more for future proofing than anything else and deals with configuring the router to use and understand IPv6 routing protocols. As with the Internet subsection, D-Link has included manual and wizard modes.

The last feature allows you to use D-Link’s own cloud service which they have called MYDLINK. If such features interest you it would be wise to register them. For everyone else, you can safely ignore this page.

The Advanced options section is a veritable wealth of options which range from port forwarding to WPS to setting up a guest network. Once again, this area is exceedingly well done and includes pretty much everything we expect from a current generation router.

Due to the amount of options D-Link, has broken the firewall related settings into multiple parts. The Firewall page mainly focuses on turning on the firewall and what how aggressive its settings are. Additional configurations can be implemented for specific websites, inbound rules, outbound (network), application, or even IPv6 settings. As a whole, the level of detail and fine tuning is rather impressive and is sure to delight advanced users. Unfortunately this level of customization may be a touch overwhelming for beginners but the more time and effort you spend, the better the results will be.

 

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