Trendnet shipped me two routers a few months ago, back when I only had one kid. The first was a TRENDnet TEW-824DRU router (gigabit ports, 1750Mbps WiFi, fastness,) that I’ve been running for the past four or five months at the house. This is the four or five month review of said router.

    My use case for the TEW-824DRU

    I had already mostly replaced the Comcast WiFi in my house as theirs was absolutely terrible, no really, random shutoffs, actually using it (network cameras, XBOX, 13 Android devices, WiFi picture frames, etc) was causing lockups, network failures, etc. Unfortunately the WiFi router I was using was not particularly good at handling my Faraday cage house.

    I hooked the TEW-824DRU behind my Comcast router, disabled WiFi and the XFinity guest WiFi as they tend to like to fight my equipment, hooked my wired cameras up to the Gigabit ports, and immediately noticed life was 7% better as I no longer was having the random disconnects.

    OK, the TEW-824DRU was doing its job. From the second floor I was able to receive and transmit in the basement. Something that the Comcast router had been failing. Now, most modern houses this sounds like a no-brainer, but in a house built with plaster, which was adhered by some sort of chicken-wire, getting from room to room was impressive.

    Punching through plaster walls and then out of a brick exterior to get internet to the street impressed me more.

    I’ll point out I’m not using pictures of mine because I took them four months ago, since then they got deleted from Dropbox and I’m not at the house. Should people require I’ll locate a newspaper and hold it up to the captive router for proof of life.

    What really stood out was the speed

    Something that always confounded me with the Comcast setup was why torrents went so slow and VoIP was blergh. Individual files transferred at up to 60Mbit per second, but a torrent would top out at about 14Mbit. If I connected to a VPN I was looking at nearly 60Mbit again.

    The TEW-824DRU has a thing called Qualcomm Streamboost which is a packet prioritization for gaming and VoIP. It also shapes network traffic by intelligently managing network traffic. I don’t know how, all I do know on this is my 14Mbit transfers went to about 40 right off the bat.

    Many factors play into a torrent obviously, but it felt faster.

    Neat features

    This is something I haven’t gotten to play with yet but it’s been on the list. You can slap a USB stick or hard drive into the back of the router and use it both as a DLNA source and also as an FTP. So if you’re attempting to backup a phone via FTP, you don’t have to bother setting up a server on your computer.

    OK, I know, this is old hat to WiFi routers. I just haven’t played with it much.

    There’s also the ability to set up a guest network that your virus-ridden in laws can use without risking connecting to your device, parental controls, WPS for one touch pairing (although it’s probably two touches as you have to touch the phone as well,) targeted beam forming, all gigabit ports, I’m sure I’m missing something. Oh yeah, you can slap two additional SSIDs on the thing if you want to (such as a set of old legacy equipment that it’s too annoying to bother changing).

    WiFi AC will stream at up to 1300Mbps while the WiFi N bands can simultaneously do 450Mbps. You’re of course limited to the maximum speed your internet can deliver if you’re going out that way which is probably more in the 25-60Mbit range. If you’re streaming high def video off your computer though this can be a godsend.

    Not so neat features

    The GUI is, at least with my setup, flakey. I’m told I may be a special case and I don’t doubt it. There’s a mix of business, gaming, and ridiculousness in my network that most people wouldn’t consider.

    What this results in for me is being able to set up things and poke around the GUI for a while and then it will stop responding requiring the router to be reset. I will stress that the average user is not going to be poking around the GUI after setting it up, I mostly was looking at device bandwidth use for a while trying to track down a rogue connection.

    I don’t particularly have a problem rebooting a device once in a while, but with multiple cameras streaming, hosting a few services, trying to seed the EVO project (yes, it’s happening, slowly), and nonstop experiments, it does bring things to a grinding halt.

    I’m hoping they have a firmware update to address networks like mine.

    Neater features again

    While the GUI and setup somewhat lacks in my opinion (no byte counter for devices past the past 30 seconds? Whaaaa? How am I supposed to track down what rogue device is downloading gigabytes from the internet?,) they’ve released it as compatible with DD-WRT firmware.

    Unfortunately according to my TEW-824DRU dealer, installing it may void a warranty as you can do things like fry the NAND, crank the broadcast power to 11, and otherwise configure to burn it to cinders.

    Probably not going to happen, but I did ask.

    One little thing

    In order to get the packet prioritization and Qualcomm tech running you’re going to need to log into the router and enable it. This is not something I’d expect you’d have to do. Should be on by default. Oh well, you’ll be in the router to configure the name of the WiFi most likely, so not a huge deal.

    Overall

    Since the days of the WRT-54G I’ve been a fan of WiFi that you could slap Tomato and DD-WRT on. I’m very impressed with the hardware TRENDnet released, even if I am a bit annoyed at my ability to down the GUI occasionally.

    In my book, hardware is a 4.5. I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the range. Well, I can. I was impressed with the range. There, I said it. It’s not the greatest I’ve ever run into (which will probably be my next router review in a week or two,) but it’s near it.  Software, meh… if it worked properly which it does evidently for most, it would be about a 3.5. Features such as byte counting, limiting bandwidth by MAC, warnings for bandwidth caps, things that make me happy to have are missing.

    But it’s seriously the best home-style no-antenna, don’t have to think about it WiFi router I’ve played with.

    It’s currently rocking a 4.2 star rating on Amazon, that’s about what I’d give it if I had the ability to do smaller segments. Keeping in mind I got it for free and my vote may be able to be bought for cheese sticks. Nah, that’s about the correct rating, but I’m dropping it to a 4 star because I hate the GUI lockups.

    The TRENDnet TEW-824DRU AC1750 Dual Band Wireless AC Gigabit Router is available from Amazon for $89.99