It's in the box
The $129 DI-704 router includes everything you need to get your network up and running. A well-illustrated installation guide walks you through setup. The router also comes with two Cat-5, UTP network cables, so you may not have to buy any yourself. Remember, however, that all the computers you want to connect to the router must have network interface cards (NICs) already installed.
To install the router, simply connect your broadband modem and any devices you want to network to the back of the router. Next, plug in the power supply and turn on the router. Before your computers are able to talk to each other, you'll have to configure the TCP/IP settings for each PC on your network (check the user manual for instructions). Once that's done, launch your Web browser and enter the provided IP address. This takes you to the router's Web-based configuration tool, where you can add or make changes to your settings depending on your ISP connection. Finally, the DI-704 acts as a DHCP server and can send up to 253 IP addresses to networked devices.
Fast and secure
D-Link offers a generous list of standard features with its DI-704 router. The built-in, auto-sensing, 10/100mbps switch provides each node on the network with a dedicated Ethernet connection, which dramatically boosts performance for bandwidth-intensive applications and multiplayer gaming. Users concerned about network security will appreciate the built-in, NAT-based firewall. While NAT is not an enterprise-level firewall solution, it's an effective way to hide the IP addresses of the computers on your local network; the router's IP address is all that's visible to the Internet.
The DI-704 router also has something to offer networking gurus. Via the Web-based interface, an administrator can allow or deny access to specific machines and/or ports on any machine in the local network. For example, with the Virtual Server option, you can set up a Web server on your network to accept external requests without exposing the entire machine to the Internet. Telecommuting and virtual private networking (VPN) are also fully supported via the point-to-point tunneling protocol (PPTP) and IPsec pass-through technologies. The DI-704 router even offers a backup serial COM port, which lets you share an Internet connection via an external analog or ISDN modem.
We do have one minor quibble with the D-Link: Unlike the Linksys EtherFast four-port cable/DSL router, the DI-704 fails to include an uplink port, which lets you easily expand your network by connecting two hubs or switches together. Even so, you can easily overcome this limitation by using a network crossover cable to link additional hubs or switches.
D-Link products come with a generous lifetime warranty, and free technical support is available by phone, Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT. The D-Link Web site also offers firmware upgrades, installation manuals, and FAQs.
The D-Link DI-704 Cable/DSL Internet Gateway and four-port switch has everything you need to build a home- or small-office network. This affordable device lets you share a broadband connection, while protecting your network at the same time. The router also offers many advanced networking features and comes with a lifetime warranty.