D-Link DIR-865L Dual-band 802.11ac Wireless Router

D-Link has been going ga-ga over the cloud lately, introducing a raft of new routers, NAS boxes, wireless IP cameras, and mobile apps that let you manage your network and the devices attached to it by using a PC, a smartphone, or a tablet (as long as those mobile devices run on iOS or Android; Windows 7 and BlackBerry uses need not apply). The DIR-865L reviewed here is a user-friendly, dual-band 802.11n/802.11ac router. It supports three spatial streams to deliver maximum theoretical throughput of 450 megabits per second on the 2.4GHz frequency band and maximum theoretical throughput of 1.3 gigabits per second on the 5GHz band. D-Link doesn’t offer an 802.11ac bridge at this time, so the company recommends that users who want an 802.11ac network buy two DIR-865L routers and configure one as a bridge. The device is designed to stand vertically, with no provisions for setting it up any other way (including wall-mounting it). The antennas are hidden inside its glossy plastic enclosure. The DIR-865L ($200) comes with a single USB 2.0 port. Each of the other four routers in its price range that I evaluated provide two USB 2.0 ports, so you can share both a USB storage device and a printer over your network. D-Link makes you choose between the two. I didn’t evaluate the process of setting up a printer, and my experience with sharing a USB hard drive was disconcerting. The router seemed to think that I would only ever want to access an attached drive using a Web browser and D-Link’s HTML front end, rather than mapping the drive to my Windows computer directly. Aside from the MyDlink cloud services, this router has fewer features than the Asus and Netgear 802.11ac routers. D-Link provides a DLNA-certified media server, plus an iTunes server and a VPN pass-through for secure remote network access. If you have young children or teenagers in the house, the parental controls provided by OpenDNS (you’ll have to sign up for a free account there, in addition to signing up for a MyDlink account) can help prevent them from wandering into less-than-savory Web destinations. The DIR-865L is a dual-band router, and can run a 450-mbps 802.11n network on the 2.4GHz frequency band and a 1.3-gigabit 802.11ac network on the 5GHz frequency band simultaneously. The router arrived from the factory with its 2.4GHz radio configured to deliver 20MHz of bandwidth (channel bonding disabled), and its 5GHz radio configured to deliver 80MHz of wireless bandwidth (channel bonding enabled in 802.11ac mode).