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.
Thats why Ive 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 doesnt
seem like a lot, anybody whos messed with Linksys or countless off brand devices can
tell you that its a rare find.
Hence, my happiness with the D-Link DI-704 Home DSL/Cable Gateway and 4 Port Switch.
Theres 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, youll 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. Thats 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 Ill 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 computers ethernet cable into the DI-704. You must clear out your
computers 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 youve got
taking up your memory now. Once youre 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, its just
a matter of being aware what ports youve 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, Im finally accessing my fave websites with any computer on my network at
any time. Its 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.