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Armored Core 2
Baldur's Gate II
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Street Fighter EX3
Tekken Tag Tournament
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1995-2001
GamesFirst! Magazine

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DI-704 Home Internet Gateway


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by D-Link

Contrary to popular belief, not all webmasters or gamers are die-hard computer geeks. Okay, let me back that up – most webmasters and gamers are "geeks," but not necessarily with an extraordinary amount of knowledge about the techie bits of computer geekdom. Although I can, for example, set up a simple LAN, install my own cards and memory, and futz around with web design and coding enough to be productive, I cannot, for example, recode bits of programs to make them work just right, tweak all kinds of machine code, nor deal with too much complexity regarding hardware. I think I fit into a large classification of computer users who are not schooled in the finer points of technology, rather bound up in the actual usage of the technology.

That’s why I’ve developed a fondness for D-Link. One of the most frustrating things you can try to do with your computer (or computers) at home is set up a network. Sure, everybody will tell you that setting up a home network is incredibly easy, from me to the guy at the local computer stuff store. But once you get all your pieces assembled, expect to spend a long time goofing around with things until your computers actually talk to each other. Or, go buy a D-Link home network kit. For some reason, these folks get it right – their product works the way it is supposed to, and usually on the first try. While that kind of reliability doesn’t seem like a lot, anybody who’s messed with Linksys or countless off brand devices can tell you that it’s a rare find.

Hence, my happiness with the D-Link DI-704 Home DSL/Cable Gateway and 4 Port Switch. There’s a problem that arises when you jump to the realm of broadband – the IP address. Once you get DSL or your Cable modem installed, you can access the Internet with multiple computers at the same time, "common internet access." However, with a standard DSL or Cable modem setup, you’ll need to get extra IP addresses for your additional computers. Each computer must have its own IP address in order to access the Internet via your standard hub-modem setup. That’s fine in some places, where ISPs provide extra IP addresses at a minimal fee. But here in Moscow, Idaho, our venerable First Step Internet (the same folks who graciously host GF!) only offers IP addresses in groups of five. Unfortunately, I only needed one extra IP address, and at an additional $15 per month, the cost for all five Ips would drain my broadband budget. So what to do?

This is where the DI-704 comes in. The little box allows you to use the one IP address your ISP gives you with DSL or Cable modem service, but access the Internet with more than one computer at the same time. The DI-704 replaces the hub in your LAN, and can accommodate four computers directly plugged into the unit. With additional hubs plugged in, the DI-704 can support up to 253 computers using the same ISP. With this little bad boy, you can avoid those extra charges for more IP addresses. At $130 for the DI-704, that means that I’ll be saving money in 10 months. Not bad.

Installation is a snap. Simply plug the DI-704 into your DSL or Cable modem, then plug your computer’s ethernet cable into the DI-704. You must clear out your computer’s network properties such as IP Address, DNS Server Addresses, and Network SubMask, and set your computer to use DHCP to automatically query the DI-704 for an IP address to use. After fixing the local settings for your computer, you pull up your web browser and type the IP address for the DI-704 itself into the Location bar. You are presented with a very straightforward login screen, and different administration screens that allow you to configure and customize the DI-704 for your use. Everything is very straightforward and easy to work with, and documentation available with a click of a button really helps out.

The DI-704 also acts as a firewall to protect your computer from unwanted intruders. Say goodbye to ZoneAlarm, Black Ice, or whatever other security software you’ve got taking up your memory now. Once you’re accessing the Internet through the DI-704, your machine is bulletproof – any computer sniffing around your IP address cannot see the network hidden behind it. However, that can cause some problems with some games and different programs such as Napster or Gnutella. To combat these problems, the DI-704 is completely configurable via a web browser interface. You can assign different ports and allow different activities as needed. The whole thing is a bit on the "techie" side, but a little futzing around will get things done. After consulting help files and the manual, things became apparent pretty quickly, and I had no problem getting Napster back up and running for its final hurrah. And once you get the hang of it, it’s just a matter of being aware what ports you’ve assigned for what tasks.

The DI-704 is a fine piece of machinery. Once again D-Link has reaffirmed my belief in them, and after months of wasting time with different software solutions and lesser DSL routers, I’m finally accessing my fave websites with any computer on my network at any time. It’s amazing how a simple solution such as this can really enhance productivity and enjoyment of your broadband capabilities. The only name you need to know in the world of networking is D-Link.

Shawn Rider

Snapshot

Ups: Easy installation; security included; lots of configuration possibilities.

Downs: It doesn't cook or clean.

System Reqs:
For use with DSL or Cable modems and Windows-based Local Area Networks.

 

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