by Rob Williams on April 24, 2007 in Networking
There have been many feature-packed routers to come out of the ASUS shops in the past year, but the WL-700gE takes the cake thanks to its pre-installed 160GB hard drive. Is this NAS/Router hybrid worth your $200?
Routers play an essential, yet simple role in our computing lives. As the name suggests, it sits there routing internet traffic to each one of our computers. Router buying used to be an easy process. More often than not, high-quality routers were easy to spot, and quality often depended on its cost. Not always, but there was a reason Linksys routers cost so much back in the day.
In recent years though, manufacturers have invented new ways to grab your attention to their product. Wireless performance has pretty much been tackled time and time again, but it was time to offer people a lot more for their $100+, not just traffic routing. ASUS was the first company to release a router that was fully capable of downloading while your main PC is turned off. This caught a lot of attention, for good reason. Although others have followed suit, ASUS still remains the only company to develop routers that support BitTorrent downloading.
We have taken a look at their WL-500g and WL-500w SuperSpeed N in the past and have been pleased overall. They each had a few questionable areas, but overall they were both stable products.
The WL-700gE we are looking at today really deserves it’s “multi-function” status. It offers so much to the consumer, that it won the Innovations 2007 award for Home Networking at this years CES. Needless to say, I was excited to tear the box open and see what it was made of.
Before we discuss the slew of features that the WL-700gE offers, let’s first see what you will receive upon a purchase. Like the other two routers we’ve taken a look at, this one arrives in a clean looking box that’s literally jam packed with product information.
Besides the router itself, you will have the antenna, power cord, network cable (for connecting to your DSL/cable box), the manual and CD-Rom which includes the software for getting up and running. The included manual is by far one of the best I’ve seen included with any product I’ve evaluated before. The information inside is straight-forward and not confusing in the least and it’s also full color so you know exactly what screen you should be looking at.
The router itself looks quite similar to the ones we’ve already taken a look at. Clean white chassis with gray trim. Both the top and bottom have plenty of airholes, although like most routers, it will still get very warm.
The front showcases a variety of LEDs and also the power button. You’ll notice a “Copy” button as well, which will copy everything off an inserted thumb drive.
There are two more USB 2.0 ports on the back in addition to a reset, EZ Setup, LAN/WAN ports, power and of course the antenna.
Because of the beastly stature of the WL-700gE (it is not light), a stand is included. It almost looks like a soap holder for your bathroom and I think it would work well in that situation. The base is heavy, so it wouldn’t slide all over the place.
Here is the full product as you will see it when set up. You can lay it down if you wish, but I think for the sake of good airflow, you’ll want to use it like this.
ASUS makes it quite easy to clean out the inside of the router. On the back, there are two latches that you push so you can lift the top off. Then with your air blower, you can clean out all the crevices. After removing a small metal guard, the hard drive is revealed. It’s a Hitachi Deskstar at 160GB. You can also pick up a 250GB model of the router if you prefer.
With that out of the way, let’s see what features are packed into the WL-700gE.