Testing & Concluding Thoughts
Upon opening the Trendnet TEW-691GR we were slightly surprised. The plain white box contained nothing more than the router, a short Ethernet cable, a CD-ROM, and a small pamphlet secured in a brown, recycled cardboard insert. While this is only a router, we would have liked to see something slightly more appropriate to the device’s price of $150.
After discarding the generic packaging, we proceeded to inspect the device hardware. The most obvious feature of the TEW-691GR was the three wireless antennas, as we normally only see two antennas in wireless routers. This extra antenna is partially due to the device’s promised 450Mbps speed as well as allowing for more wireless coverage. Further reviewing the hardware we found all the obligatory switches and ports, as well as an additional switch and an additional button. This device includes a dedicated WPS (Wifi Protected Setup) button, as well as a dedicated wireless power switch. The wireless switch was a nice feature as it allowed us to disable the wireless without changing the device’s configuration. We were not big fans of the piano finish since it quite readily showed fingerprints and dust, however for most people this device will probably be shoved behind or under something else so this is not a deal-breaker.
Proceeding to testing the device we powered it up and entered the configuration, or rather attempted to. While our network setup is not entirely representative of a standard user the setup seemed unnecessarily difficult. Referring to the provided CD-ROM we found that all the included software was Windows only, making setup for our test Mac slightly more complex. With a device of this caliber we certainly would have expected the CD-ROM to include support for both platforms, but rather we were relegated to digging around the folders on the CD looking for the PDF setup documentation.
After several router restarts and trying several different wiring configurations we finally got our Mac to connect to the wireless device and could open the administration settings. The settings seemed very confusing, and had little-to-no help explaining what certain drop-downs or radio buttons actually changed. Giving our best shot to setup the software we restarted the device, at which point we could not connect. Three hard-resets later with four different attempts at getting the correct setting we had managed to properly secure our device, name our network, and get our computer connected. Having won this small battle we decided to connect our Windows 7 computer to the wireless as well using WPS, which for some reason failed. After attempting that twice we resorted to manually typing in our password and connected the PC.
Running some range tests we found that with more than 45 feet indoors our signal became un-useable, dropping frequently and occasionally not connecting at all. That said, while we were in the same room as the device the wireless strength bested our Linksys wireless router sitting beside the TEW-691GR. Unfortunately however we could not come close to the promised speeds in our tests, even with a range of 2 feet. While we managed slightly higher speeds over the Linksys router, we still were unimpressed.
With poor range, difficult setup, and mediocre results we were highly disappointed in the performance of this router. At $150 it is priced at almost twice the average wireless router, and provides little to differentiate itself other than a third antenna. If your only concern is wireless speed over a short distance this device isn’t a bad choice. However, if you are looking for a general-purpose router you should be able to find a better alternative at a considerably cheaper price.
+ WPS setup button
+ WLAN switch
+ Decent speeds at close range
– Difficult Setup
– Short range
– Lacks features such as dual band and guest networking found on much cheaper devices
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