Although D-Link positions the DIR-855 as a home device - “High-speed wireless for gaming, music, voice and video” - it does have some features that make it worth considering for a small office network.
Firstly, it supports WPS pushbutton mode for automatically connecting wireless devices to the router. That’s very convenient, providing the device supports it too.
Secondly, it runs at both 2.4 and 5GHz. 5GHz is less prone to interference from common devices such as cordless phones, and the dual frequencies mean you effectively have two wireless networks. In a home environment, this allows streaming from a PC to a media player (for example) without slowing other uses. At work, you might specify that one is to be used for transferring very large files while the other is for general use.
Thirdly, it’s possible to build a blacklist or whitelist of domains to help keep people on task during working hours.
And finally, the USB port on the back of the device can purportedly be used to connect a printer, MFD or storage device. This feature is practically undocumented, but requires the use of a Windows utility that can be downloaded from D-Link’s web site - so tough luck if you’re using a different operating system.
We managed to get it working with a flash drive, but not with a printer. Having the router itself supporting standard protocols for storage devices and printers would be preferable.
The port can also be used with a 3G modem, or with a flash drive to transfer network settings to Vista using WCN.
An unusual feature lets you check the settings and operation of the router from the top panel display without having to resort to a PC.
The DIR-855 comes with a Windows setup utility based on Network Magic, as well as a web-based wizard. The web interface is generally well organised and includes help that could be more detailed, but is much better than the usual none.
In terms of wireless speed, the DIR-855 performed well. It ripped through the short-range test in two seconds on either frequency, and the long range test in 35 seconds on 5GHz and 36 seconds on 2.4GHz. Given the variation between trials, we’d conclude that the frequency didn’t really make any difference.
The ‘next room’ test presented a slight problem in that the wireless card in that computer didn’t support 5GHz. We wanted to keep the test environment as stable as possible so we didn’t rearrange our equipment. The average for 2.4GHz was 24 seconds.
Depending on the weight you give to different ranges, the DIR-855 is among the fastest wireless routers in our tests and would be particularly attractive to all-Windows installations.