Wireless routers have become a staple in the average home and business, but now the market for more advanced Wi-Fi routers has increased. The D-Link DIR-825 Xtreme N Dual Band Gigabit router offers both 2.4 and 5-GHz bands, 3G wireless capabilities via USB, power-saving features, and a vast amount of configuration. The good performance of the router, combined with its features and modest price point, make it worth having if you want the best wireless router available.
The appearance of the D-Link DIR-825 Xtreme N Dual Band router is very typical of the company's other wireless routers with a slim, white brick-like case with a black plastic band that wraps around the edge. With its two movable antennas for wireless transmitting, the device in all is pretty slim and will fit almost anywhere and look good wherever as well. On the front panel of the router, you'll find several blue LED lights that let you know the status of the WAN connection, the four LAN outputs, and if the router is transmitting in 2.4 and/or 5-GHz frequencies. On the right side of the router, a Wi-Fi protected setup button provides easy one-touch access for quick setup of devices...more on that later. On the backside of the DIR-825 is the location of the two antennas, WAN input, four Gigabit Ethernet outputs, a USB port, a power button, and power adapter connector.
Setup of the DIR-825 is fairly straightforward and is definitely geared toward a more business-class audience, but advanced home users may find many of the features useful as well. When you first setup the router, you can either use the included setup CD to connect to the router from a computer and set it up or do it over the network via the router's administration console. Either method will work just find, but home or more novice users may want to elect to setup via the CD as it provides more wizard-based setup and a lot more help. For more advanced network users, the router's Intranet administration console is very user-friendly and full of advanced configuration features.
Some of these features include the ability to control the WAN speed, ping Internet addresses, and advanced NAT filtering and antispoofing controls for the built-in hardware firewall. The firewall also comes with very handy application-based rules, which allow you to choose an application, such as AOL Instant Messenger, and have the router automatically block the port or forward the port to only specific computers on the network. There are also time-restriction settings and scheduling to allow Internet access or port access to certain computers during specified times, which is handy for businesses looking to keep their employees from wasting time online or parents looking to control their children's Internet usage. Guest access is also included on this router, which allows you to give temporary access to the Internet for a specific computer.
One of the most unique features to this router which is a compelling selling point as well is built-in cellular modem support. For example, you can connect a USB 3G or EV-DO networking card to the router and it will provide Internet access for you network via the cellular modem in the case that you're ISP's connection fails. While probably not a practical thing for a home setting, a small business may find this feature crucial if your business has important time-sensitive data that needs to be sent out. Keep in mind that you will have to subscribe to an Internet data plan from a cellular carrier in order for this feature to work.
The USB port also serves another purpose, which is the ability to connect a USB device, such as a printer or hard-drive, and have it shared on the network to any connected computers. This is a useful feature if you have multiple computers and only want to have one printer that all of them can print to. An external hard drive can be used as a central place to store files where all computers on the network have access to them.
The performance of the D-Link DIR-825 Dual Band router was pretty good, with only modest shortcomings. It seems that when broadcasting in dual-band (both 2.4 and 5-GHz at the same time), the Internet speeds at longer distances were a little compromised, but not unusable. Performance at both 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz used individually was much better, with excellent throughput at both short distances and long distances, with the 5-GHz band performing slightly better.