Asus WL-700gE review
Having recently been wowed by Freecom’s FSG3-WLAN (see issue 148, p133), with its wireless router and NAS drive, we weren’t too surprised to see other manufacturers following suit. The marriage of a router and a hard disk is so natural it’s a wonder we don’t see it more often.
But we weren’t expecting Asus to be next in line with such a polished offering. The headline specs and price make it look like a bargain too. The router offers an SPI and NAT firewall, FTP server, print server and DLNA-certified UPnP media server (which also supports iTunes). There’s support for DynDNS.org – useful if you want to use the web server with its wizards to create a blog and photo galleries. The wireless radio supports enhanced 802.11g at a theoretical 125Mb/sec, plus WPA and WPA2 encryption. Also, like the Synology DiskStation (see issue 148, p138), it has a built-in BitTorrent download manager, so you can leave your torrents downloading directly to the WL-700gE.
Asus has also clearly thought about the design. Unlike the Freecom, there’s no external PSU to clutter things up and, as there’s no fan, it’s silent unless you’re within a foot or so of the unit. It’s more stylish too with its white and silver design. Sensibly, the power button is on the front, and there’s a USB port with a copy button to transfer the contents without needing a PC. At the rear, there’s a four-port 10/100 Ethernet hub and two more USB ports for printers, hard disks or webcams. It’s only a shame Asus didn’t opt for a Gigabit hub or an ADSL modem – there’s just an RJ-45 WAN port.
The lid has two quick-release tabs; open it up and you’re faced with a thumbscrew to secure the cover over the 160GB Hitachi PATA hard disk. Removing the cover won’t void the warranty either.
The web interface is messy and confusing, although it does offer loads of options, including share management, URL filtering, virtual servers and port triggering. The wireless options extend to RADIUS settings, radio power, WMM and MAC address filtering.
Wired transfer speeds weren’t brilliant – large files were read and written at less than 5MB/sec, and this dropped to 1MB/sec over the wireless interface. But this is the only drawback of the WL-700gE and, if performance isn’t critical, it’s a superb choice.