Sitecom WL-328 review
Sitecom looks to be bringing the days of high prices on concurrent dual-band routers to an end with its latest product. The WL-328 is a cable router offering up to 300Mbits/sec 802.11n Wi-Fi in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, and it costs a paltry £51 exc VAT.
That’s a good price for a single-band wireless-n router, let alone one that lets you run two wireless networks simultaneously, but there are a couple of caveats. The four wired network ports at the rear of the WL-328 are 10/100 Ethernet rather than Gigabit, placing a cap on the maximum potential throughput. And there’s no USB socket for sharing storage or a printer over the network.
Other than that, though, there appears to be very little wrong with the Sitecom WL-328. It doesn’t look much, but then you’ll probably want to hide it away somewhere anyway. The lack of protruding aerials means although it’s bland, it’s also pretty unobtrusive.
The web interface is well organised and easy to understand, and we particularly liked the fact it came out of the box ready-secured with WPA2. The code is handily printed on a label underneath too, along with the default web admin username and password, plus instructions on how to use the WPS button, and how to reset and restore the router to factory defaults.
Alas, when it came to our speed tests, the WL-328 was found almost entirely lacking. At close range we recorded acceptable download rates of 86Mbits/sec and uploads of 60Mbits/sec over 2.4GHz, while over 5GHz it was slightly quicker at 87Mbits/sec and 66Mbit/sec respectively. However, as soon as we started to move our test laptop any distance away, performance dipped dramatically.
In our standard long-range test, with the laptop 30m and two walls distant, the WL-328 failed to complete the test over either 2.4GHz or 5GHz, so we moved the laptop closer. At 10m away and with just one wall in the way we were at least able to complete our tests, achieving download and upload rates that averaged 82Mbits/sec and 44Mbits/sec over 2.4GHz, but 5GHz took a nosedive. From this short distance, we measured an average download of 28Mbits/sec and an average upload of 24Mbits/sec.
So the WL-328 may be cheap, but in anything but the pokiest of flats it doesn’t represent good value for money. Poor long-range performance over 2.4GHz and poor mid to long-range speed over 5GHz means we can’t possibly recommend it at any price.
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Gigabit LAN ports||0|
|10/100 LAN ports||4|
|Wireless bridge (WDS)||yes|
|WPA Enterprise support||yes|
|WPS (wireless protected setup)||yes|
|MAC address filtering||yes|
|Port forwarding/virtual server||yes|
|Web content filtering||no|
|Dimensions||183 x 108 x 31mm (WDH)|
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