Preview: Cisco's Linksys WRT160NL has a UPnP media server inside

Preview: Cisco's Linksys WRT160NL has a UPnP media server inside
Rating
Overall: Not yet rated

A solid draft-n router with NAS and media-streaming features – though it’s a little on the slow side.

Specs
802.11; draft-2.0 wireless router; 2 x removable aerials; 4 x Ethernet; 1 x WAN; USB socket for HDD connection; 1yr RTB warranty; 203 x 159 x 33mm (WDH)
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There isn't much to distinguish between the various flavours of Cisco Linksys routers these days. They all come in the familiar flying saucer chassis, with activity lights and a WPS button ranged along the front edge. The new WRT160NL doesn't break this mould.

What it does boast are a few features beyond the usual wireless router fare. The most interesting of these is Storage Link. On the rear panel, alongside the four Ethernet sockets and WAN port (the router is only available in cable variety), is a downstream USB port. This allows you to hook up a USB hard disk and use the router as a basic NAS drive.

It isn't the first time we've seen this facility in a router - our current A List resident, the Belkin N+, can pull off the same trick - but it's a rare-enough feature to earn the Linksys a few extra brownie points. It's an excellent option for those who don't want to waste electricity or invest in an expensive, dedicated NAS drive.

You can impose user- and group-based read and write restrictions, and the WRT160NL has a UPnP media server facility, so you can stream media stored on your external hard disk to a connected player or computer.

Another difference comes in the shape of a pair of external aerials, which will please those who are forced to place the router in an awkward location.

Elsewhere, it's a competent rather than spectacular router. The WRT160NL's wireless capability is restricted to single-band 2.4GHz 802.11n draft 2.0. There's no Gigabit Ethernet, and you don't get niceties such as guest access or an on-router display.

Wireless speed is also nothing to write home about. Although we found the router to be generally reliable during a whole week of testing, in our file-transfer tests the WRT160NL performed relatively slowly at close range and was roughly half the speed of our current A List model in our long-range test.

So although the WRT160NL is reasonably priced and boasts a good range of features, the Belkin N+ remains the better all-round choice.

This Review appeared in the December, 2009 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine

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