D-Link DIR-685: When wireless routing is just part of the job

D-Link's new DIR-685 router offers more functions than any other Draft N router.

D-Link's Xtreme N DIR-685 wireless router. D-Link

During 2008, I complained about all of D-Link's wireless routers, such as the DIR-825 or the DIR-855 because of their common, old-school, bulky designs. Thursday, however, I was more than impressed by the all-new Xtreme N Storage DIR-685 wireless router.

It's possibly the first router that really offers a lot more than just routing.

First off, the DIR-685 is the first router from D-Link I know of that features the internal antenna design, which is not new, as Linksys and Netgear have done this for a long time. Nevertheless, the DIR-685 is now much more compact and eye-catching than previous generations of D-Link routers.

What makes the DIR-685 unique, however, is the fact that it comes with a hard drive bay that can house a 2.5-inch SATA hard drive, a full-feature NAS system (with support for media servers and BitTorrent downloads), and features a 3.2-inch LCD monitor. The monitor, apart from being able to display the device's status via graphical gauges, can also work as a photo frame, play streamed video, and show weather forecasts and other live streaming Internet content in up to 1.6 million colors.

The DIR-685 uses D-Link Green technology which, according to D-Link, helps conserve energy. It does this by automatically recognizing port activity and cable length and adjusting power usage by consolidating all functions to a single device instead of many separate products, and by using the idle mode that automatically turns off power to the LCD screen.

According to D-Link, the router's wide local-area network scheduler can turn off the router's Wi-Fi module at a preset time, and the power adapter complies with Energy Star specifications. With these features, the router can offer power savings of up to 30 percent over other routers of the same type, according to D-Link.

On its back, the DIR-685 has four gigabit Ethernet ports and one gigabit WAN port. It also sports two USB ports featuring D-Link's SharePort technology that lets them work as networked USB ports, enabling the router to support any USB devices. The SharePort technology can also be found in D-Link's previous router models, such as the DIR-825.

The DIR-685 will be available by the end of the first quarter and is estimated to cost less than $300. I am looking forward to testing one out.

The DIR-685's back with its ports and open hard drive bay. Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive

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