Wireless routers with internal antennas have a much tidier appearance, and the Linksys WRT610N combines this with an unusually sleek outline.
Instead of the usual plugpack, the WRT610N comes with an inline power pack with a short mains lead - and the review sample had a US mains plug! We’ll put that down to an oversight.
A wizard-style setup utility is provided for Windows and Mac OS X (the Mac version politely creates a new location in the Network system preference), but if you prefer to go straight to the web interface you’re on your own. That’s doubly true, as the documentation is practically non-existent: nothing on the CD, despite the claim in the quick installation guide.
Our use of the web interface was interrupted by several ‘connection dropped’ errors, which was irritating. Apart from that, it is well organised and benefits from help pages being displayed in a separate browser window.
Like the D-Link DIR-855, the WRT610N has a USB port for disk sharing - and Linksys has done the right thing and presents the contents of the drive as one or more SMB shares, so no special software is required. In addition, the shared storage can be put to work with the built-in media server and FTP server if desired.
There’s the usual ability to block URLs and keywords, along with ‘applications’ such as telnet and IMAP. These rules can be enforced according to a timetable, along with allowing or denying Internet access to one or more computers (identified by MAC or IP address).
QoS rules can be set for applications, by MAC address, or by Ethernet port. VoIP devices can be listed separately by MAC address, and then the whole group given the highest priority.
The WRT610N was the fastest performer on our distance test - but only when using 5GHz. The average time of 17 seconds blew out to 58 seconds (with much more variability) on 2.4GHz. 5GHz was also faster than 2.4GHz for the same-room test: 12 seconds vs 19 seconds.
Once again, we were unable to run the ‘next room’ test at 5GHz, but the average time for 2.4GHz was 20 seconds.
Although it’s not a screamer at short range, the good long-range performance (at 5GHz at least) makes the WRT610N an attractive choice.