Up Close: TRENDnet TEW-631BRP & TEW-621PC
Both the TRENDnet TEW-631BRP Firewall Router and TEW-621PC Wireless CardBus came complete with everything needed to quickly set up the devices . The TEW-621PC had the simpler bundle of the two, comprised of the card, a Quick Installation guide and installation CD. The guide is brief, relying on a CD based wizard to walk the user through the proper installation of the adapter. The device itself was simple as well. The easy to install card sports a small head that includes a power and link light to help indicate that the card is powered on properly and transmitting. The only thing that we think was missing was a carry case for those who may not intend to leave the card installed on the same computer all the time.
The TRENDnet TEW-631BRP Firewall Router, which is the main focus of this review, comes with a retail package nearly identical to that of the TEW-621PC Wireless CardBus except that a Cat 5 network cable was thrown in for good measure as well. There was a Quick Installation Manual that included basic information as well as a troubleshooting section and a CD with a setup wizard that guides users through proper setup of the device.
The TRENDnet TEW-631BRP Firewall Router is a light blue unit that is low profile and very light. Compared to a Linksys WRT54G Wireless Router, the TRENDnet TEW-631BRP Firewall Router feels like it's half the weight. And as a side note, we also noticed that it runs a bit cooler too. On the front are a number of lights to indicate the device's status. Starting at the left is a Power light followed by four LAN lights which coincide with the four 100Mbps ports on the rear of the router. Those are followed by a WAN and WLAN light which indicate an internet connection and that a wireless connection exists, respectively.
The rear of the router consists of a DC power port, a Factory Reset button and a WAN port for connecting to your broadband modem. The system also comes with four 100Mbit Ethernet ports for wired LAN use and includes a switch to manually enable/disable the router's wireless functionality. One of the more mysterious buttons on this unit is on the left edge. Here exists a small black button which is referred to in the manual as a "Config Button". Sadly, the manual vaguely states that the button is reserved for WPS functions and refers the user to the TRENDnet homepage. After further investigation, we simply kept coming up with the same description on their website with no further clue as to what this "Config button" does nor a definition of what WPS is. Ultimately, WPS stands for Wireless Provisioning Services and is a simpler way to setup wireless security. This feature is implemented when you got to a public place that offers WiFi and a PIN is required for access. This is also commonly the case with Hotels. Ultimately, this appears to be a future function that is not operational at this time. Nonetheless, it would be good to see TRENDnet be very clear about what this button does or its future capabilities so user's are not left wondering when they set up the router.