I remember a
few years back when I set up my first home office. I used the D-Link
DI-704 Ethernet Broadband Router to allow me to share my internet
connection, and that little device set me back about $120. Of course, I
went with D-Link because around GamesFirst! we had had so much luck with
their products. Its been awhile since then, and the DI-704 is still
chugging away nicely. But when D-Link sent us a notification that their
new model Ethernet Broadband Router, the DI-604, had been approved by
Microsoft for Xbox use, we just couldnt resist giving it a spin. Im
happy to say that over the years a lot of things have changed, but one
thing has remained consistent: D-Link is still my favorite network
hardware manufacturer, and they are still creating great products.
Each day broadband becomes a bit more popular. And each day I get emails
asking questions about setting up home networks, configuring routers and
firewalls, and generally making things work. So I appreciate it when I
find networking hardware components that make installation and
customization as simple as possibleit helps keep my in-box a bit
cleaner and saves folks the hassle of contacting me just so I can point
them in the direction of real assistance (GF! is not exactly the place
to come for tips on debugging your home LAN). I should say up front that
I am very, very happy with the DI-604, and if youre looking for a
simple solution to home networking problems, this is probably going to
be the perfect choice for you.
The DI-604 is an Ethernet Broadband Router. That means it will allow
you to share a single broadband internet connection among several
devices. Nine months ago, I might have said "among several computers",
but these days we have to include the Xbox and PlayStation 2 along with
devices like broadband phones and videophones. If its got an ethernet
cable coming out of it, then you can plug it into the DI-604 and access
your internet connection.
But thats not all the DI-604 does. The device also contains a
hardware firewall, which is very useful. D-Link has augmented the
customization features of the DI-604, which is a welcome enhancement.
Especially when running PC games, it is crucial to have the ability to
open and close ports, as well as to forward ports to various IPs on your
home network. Im happy to report that the DI-604 actually does a good
job figuring out most of this stuff on its own, and requires very little
tweaking unless youre running some specific, obscure, or otherwise
complicated tasks, in which case you should be able to figure out the
configuration interface easily. The robust firewall options also make
the DI-604 ideal for parents who wish to block certain sites with its
URL, domain, and IP filtering. I probably shouldnt have to actually
state this, but it is very nice to have these functions included in a
separate piece of hardware for two reasons: First, it frees up system
resources on your PC. Second, it enables users to block sites from every
computer on their network without having to physically access and
configure each individual computer.
Another advanced feature of the DI-604 is the Virtual Cable Test
utility. This feature is accessed via the configuration interface, and
is very useful for finding faults in your network. It details the active
connections to the router so you can know if, for example, your Xbox is
responding or not. This function is especially useful if you are using
your DI-604 with an Xbox or PS2 because these devices dont have the
same kinds of diagnostic utilities readily accessible as PCs have.
Installation of the DI-604 is a snap. There are four ports on the
router, which means you can hook up to four devices and PCs together.
The computers connected via the DI-604 can share files and communicate
with each other, just as if you were using a hub, so the DI-604 can
pretty much establish and handle most home networks. We were able to get
our Xbox and PS2 running on the DI-604 with no configuration whatsoever,
and as long as your ISP supports DHCP, then you should really have
little need to even access the configuration interface.
If you do need to access the configuration interface, its very easy.
You use a standard web browser and simply open the URL provided in the
user manual. You are then presented with a Web-styled interface that is
robust and intuitive. There are even help files to assist you if you get
confused. The DI-604 maintains logs and can give reports on activity, so
if you are a security nut you should have plenty of data to keep you
Overall, the DI-604 is fast, easy to install and use, and very much
worth the money. The MSRP on the DI-604 is $49.99, although a quick web
search revealed prices as low as $32. At that kind of price, its hard
to beat what the DI-604 has to offer. If youre getting your home
network going, or if youre hooking up Xbox Live or PS2 online gaming
for the first time, you should be looking at the D-Link DI-604 Ethernet