Trendnet TEW-692GR Wireless Router review
The TEW-692GR is a simultaneous dual-band router, so it can create 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks at the same time. It has no built-in ADSL modem or extras such as a USB port, which means that you can’t connect USB drives or printers, so given its £123 asking price we were hoping for high speeds.
The TEW-692GR's flimsy build quality means it didn't make a particularly good first impression, but the router surprised us by having a proper printed manual in addition to the PDF on the setup CD. The manual is concise and easy to follow and provides plenty of good advice on preparing the router for use. To set up the router you attach it to your broadband modem via its WAN port and then access its web interface through your browser. From there, you use a wizard to configure your internet connection and set the security level of the router's wireless network, all of which only takes a few minutes.
The TEW-692GR’s web interface is just as clear and helpful as its user manual, and the security wizard assists you by grading the effectiveness of the different security options offered by the unit, with WPA described as “better” and WPA2-PSK as “best”. The interface is split into two panes, with the left-hand pane containing a set of buttons and the right-hand pane a page of options relating to the currently selected button. The layout makes it easy to access the router's various options and advanced features.
The TEW-692GR has four Gigabit Ethernet ports, so will let you create a fast wired network, but it's the router's wireless specs that are the most impressive. The TEW-692GR supports the less-congested 5GHz band, so your wireless network is less likely to have interference from 2.4GHz wireless devices such as cordless phones. The unit also supports channel bonding, which can improve Wi-Fi performance by combining two wireless channels, but this can cause interference for your neighbours' networks if you use channel-bonding in 2.4GHz mode.
We tested the TEW-692GR using our test Centrino 2 laptop’s built-in Wi-Fi and also with TrendNet’s USB wireless dongle, the TEW-684UB (£40 from www.pixmania.co.uk). At a distance of 10 metres using the 5GHz band, channel-bonding and TrendNet’s USB dongle, we saw a huge 76.3Mbit/s, which is the fastest speed we've seen at this distance - even faster than the Belkin N600 DB Wireless Dual-Band N+ Router, our previous speed champion, which managed 74.14Mbit/s at this distance with its matched dongle.
At a distance of 25 metres, again with channel-bonding and TrendNet's own dongle, the unit managed an astonishing transfer rate of 44.2Mbit/s, again the fastest speed we’ve seen at this distance. In comparison, Belkin’s Play N600DB managed 28.3Mbit/s. When using the laptop’s own Wi-Fi, no channel bonding and the 2.4GHz band, the TEW-692GR transferred data at 37.7Mbit/s at one metre, 38.7Mbit/s at 10 metres and 10.3Mbit/s at 25 metres, so it definitely pays to use the 5GHz band and invest in TrendNet's own USB dongle.
TrendNet's TEW-692GR is the fastest router we’ve ever tested, and is especially impressive at long ranges. However, it's relatively expensive for a non-ADSL router without a USB port; Belkin's N600DB has both these features and is £45 cheaper, as well as being quicker in 2.4GHz mode. Unless you need the best-possible transfer speeds at long range, Belkin's router is still the better buy overall.
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