WD My Net N900 HD Dual-Band Router Review

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Setup & Advanced Options

Initial setup is a piece of cake. A few screens guide you through the process and you'll be up in running a matter of minutes. One thing we recommend doing right away, however, is flashing the firmware to the latest version. To do this, we had to download the file from Western Digital's website and then upload it to the router. You can instruct the router to check for and fetch updated firmware files on its own, but in our tests, it was reluctant to do so.

Western Digital made it easy to navigate the settings through a sleek dashboard (WD calls it 'My Dashboard') that's one of the least intimidating around. There's a row of icons along the top that give you access to the main functions, and within each menu are arrowed entries that open up sub-menus. It doesn't take much digging to burrow yourself several layers deep within the user interface (UI), though you'll never feel lost. Getting back to the main menu is always just a single mouse click away.

Also of interest is a unique Notifications heading in the upper-right corner. These let you know if there's anything that requires your attention. Most of the time the messages will be benign in nature, such as imploring you to register or reminding you to setup a Guest wireless login, but it can also alert you to any potential problems.

It won't take long for networking gurus to discover the Advanced menu, which is where you'll find features like Port Forwarding, Application Level Gateway (ALG) configuration options, and other features less savvy users will want to leave alone. The Advanced menu is also where Western Digital tucks away its FasTrack Plus QoS (Quality of Service) sub-menu. FasTrack technology is one of the main selling points of Western Digital's router line and is intended to prioritize streaming entertainment traffic. A quick primer from Western Digital:

Most routers these days include customizable QoS settings, and that's what WD's FasTrack technology really is, except that it's pre-optimized for videos, audio (think VoIP), and gaming traffic. Western Digital's focus is on the living room, and the My Net router line with FasTrack technology plays into that strategy.

So, does it work? Clearly it did in Western Digital's own demonstration, as shown in the video above. In our tests, the results weren't as dramatic, but we did notice that Netflix had no trouble streaming high definition content to our iPad 3 while we downloaded a 3GB file from the Web. It doesn't blow other high-end routers out of the water, but if your primary objective is to watch movies, the My Net N900 ensures that kind of content is delivered first, if you want it to be.

Western Digital's My Net N900 Central router comes with 1TB or 2TB of internal storage; the rest do not, including the My Net N900 reviewed here. In lieu of an internal hard drive, you can connect an external drive (or printer or scanner) to either/both of the USB 2.0 ports on the back. Like everything else, setup is quick and simple, requiring just a few mouse clicks.

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