Super compact and available in four color options, the D-Link Wireless AC750 Dual Band Gigabit Cloud Router (model DIR-818LW) is perfect for anyone who cares about matching their gadgets. That is, if matching gadgets is all they care about.
Truth be told, the new D-Link AC750 lacks what's most important in a home router: the fast Wi-Fi performance and the long wireless range, normally found in regular-sized routers.
That makes the DIR-818LW only suitable if you have a small apartment and you're looking for a cheap router -- it's priced at just $80. But even then, it's a better idea to get one of these good N600 routers. Or, if you don't mind spending more, check out these top 802.11ac routers instead.
Colorful compact design
The DIR-818LW is almost small enough to be a travel router. The new version shares the same cylindrical design as the DIR-868L but is about a third of the size. Unlike the processor that's available only in black, the new router is now available in white, orange and teal. It's also wall-mountable. If you're looking for a networking device that matches the color of your newly painted wall, the DIR-818LW is a good find.
Despite its small physical size, on the back the DIR-818LW still has four Gigabit LAN ports and one Gigabit WAN port (the much bigger and similarly-shaped Apple AirPort Extreme has only three LAN ports). It even comes with a USB 2.0 port to host a storage device. On the front, it has two indicator lights, one for the power status and the other for your Internet connection. These lights stay green when everything is good, and change to amber when something needs attention.
Out of the box, the router comes with a label stuck on its front that shows the pre-set Wi-Fi networks and passwords. Inside the box, there's another small D-Link Wi-Fi Configuration card with the same information. Now you just need to connect the router to power, hook its WAN port to an Internet source (such as a broadband router) using the included network cable, and you're good to go.
If you want to further customize your network, you'll need to access its Web interface.
Familiar interface, convenient cloud feature
The way to access the DIR-8181LW's interface is similar to that of most routers -- see CNET's How-to on this topic. Basically, from a connected computer, point a browser to the router's default IP address, which is 192.168.0.1. By default, the password is left blank.
The interface is similar to that of the majority of D-Link routers released in the past five years, very well-organized and self-explanatory. In fact, it's one of my favorite among routers' interfaces. Though small, the new router has all of the common features found in home routers, including two guest networks (one for each frequency band), IPv6 support, QoS, Firewall, Web content filtering, Dynamic DNS, port forwarding, and so on. The router can also host a storage device via its USB port, for data sharing and media-streaming needs. In my testing, however, the performance of the USB port wasn't fast enough for the router to be used as a viable network storage solution.
What makes the DIR-818LW different from the routers of other vendors is the included cloud feature. Basically, you can use the router's interface to link it with a free MyDLink account. After that, you can access the router's settings by going to the MyDLink portal from anywhere in the world. You can also use the My D-Link Lite mobile app (for iOS and Android) for the same purpose. I find the use of this cloud feature a convenient way to check on your home network when you're on the go. Note, however, that this feature only allows for accessing and changing a few basic settings of the router. For full access, you will still need to use the Web interface, which can be made available via the Internet if you know how to configure the Dynamic DNS feature.