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Affordable cutting-edge Wi-Fi


Trendnet's AC1750 Dual Band Wireless router (model TEW-812DRU) is a major upgrade from the company's previous TEW-692GR, and the first 802.11ac-enabled router from Trendnet.
In my testing, the device offered excellent Wi-Fi performance and was easy to use. Its only minor shortcomings are the lack of a wall-mount option and its slow storage performance when using a plugged-in USB external hard drive.
At the current street price of around $150, some $50 less than its peers cost, the TEW-812DRU is the most affordable 803.11ac-enabled router on the market. Even those that don't currently have 802.11ac clients at home will benefit from what it has to offer. For more good 802.11ac router options, check out the alternatives on this list.
Design and ease of use
This is the first router from Trendnet I've seen with an internal antenna design. Instead of lying flat on a surface like all of its predecessors, the new router stands in a vertical position, like a book. The router is thick and heavy enough for it to be quite steady in this position. There's no option for wall-mounting, however, unfortunately.
On the front, it has an array of LED indicator lights showing the statuses of the ports on the back, the Internet, the power, and the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) option. On the back, the router has one USB 2.0 port, four Gigabit LAN ports, and one Gigabit WAN (Internet) port. There's also a tiny WPS button that initiates the 2-minute window of time in which other WPS-enabled clients can connect to the router's Wi-Fi networks.
The TEW-812DRU's Web interface is very responsive, easy to use, and works with any browser.
The TEW-812DRU's Web interface is very responsive, easy to use, and works with any browser.
(Credit: Dong Ngo/CNET)
The USB port is located on top of the network ports, which is somewhat of a design flaw. This is because when connected to an external storage device or a printer, the USB cable might put stress on the router and make it topple easily. This is not a big deal, however, since the router works fine in other placements. The USB port provided enough juice to power all portable bus-powered drives I tried it with.
Setting up the TEW-812DRU is very easy via its Web interface. Basically, from a connected computer, point a browser to the router's default IP address, which is 192.168.10.1, and log in with the default credential, which is admin for both password and username. Check outthis How To post on setting up a router for more information.
Features
The TEW-812DRU AC1750 is a true dual-band router that offers the top speed of the Wireless-N standard, which is 450Mbps, on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands at the same time. On top of that, it also offers up to 1,300Mbps 802.11ac speed on the 5GHz band. (Read more here about Wi-Fi standards.)
The way Wi-Fi standards work, in order to enjoy 802.11ac speed, you need to use 802.11ac-enabled clients with the router. For now, there are almost no hardware devices, such as tablets or laptops, that come with built-in 802.11ac support. However, for computers, you can get 802.11ac adapter or media bridge to take advance of the faster speed.
You can create up to four main Wi-Fi networks on each of the router's two frequency bands.
You can create up to four main Wi-Fi networks on each of the router's two frequency bands.
(Credit: Dong Ngo/CNET)
The TEW-812DRU offers the most Wi-Fi networks I've seen from a router. You can set up as many as four main Wi-Fi networks and another four guest Wi-Fi networks on each band. This means the router can offer a total of 16 concurrent Wi-Fi networks. You can literally create a network for each Wi-Fi standard and still have a few to spare. The use of multiple Wi-Fi networks means that you don't have to sacrifice speed for backward compatibility.
The TEW-812DRU's Web interface, similar to that of the TEW-692GR, is responsive and works in any browser. The interface is intuitive and includes a clear indicator that shows the progress of changes that are being applied to the router's settings. This is helpful, as with many other routers you have no idea when changes have been applied.When coupled with a USB external hard drive or portable drive, the TEW-812DRU supports sharing the content of the plugged-in storage device with the rest of the network. You can use the Web interface to manage the data sharing. By default only the admin user has access, but you can create more users and limit their access to either read-only or full access.
Other than that the TEW-812DRU has standard router features, including virtual servers, IPv6, content filtering, and so on. For security, it supports all variations of WPA, and WPA2 encryption standards.
Performance
I tested the TEW-812DRU on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and with both 802.11n and 802.11ac clients and the router did well.When used with 802.11ac clients, which only work on the 5GHz band, the router scored 263Mbps at close range (15 feet) and 192Mbps when I increased the distance to 100 feet. These numbers place it in the top three of 802.11ac-enabled routers.
When used with Wireless-N clients on the 5GHz band, the TEW-812DRU averaged 195Mbps and 160Mbps for close range and long range, respectively. These were also very high numbers on the charts. On the 2.4GHz band, the router performed its slowest, with 53Mbps at close range and 37Mbps at long range. However, these numbers were still higher than average on the charts.
The router offered very good range in my testing, up to 270 feet. However, I found that it was most effective when clients were within 150 feet or less. Within this range, the router passed the 48-hour stress test without any hiccups, on both bands. During this time, none of the connected clients was disconnected even once.
However, the router's USB storage performance didn't do anything to impress. Via a Gigabit Ethernet wired connection, I got only around 3MBps for both writng and reading. While this is fast enough for minor data sharing, you should think of getting a dedicated NAS server if you want to do more with network storage, such as media streaming and backups.
Conclusion
With solid performance and competitive pricing, Trendnet's TEW-812DRU AC1750 Dual Band Wireless router is a great alternative to the high-end Wireless-N N900 routers that don't support 802.11ac.

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