The Linksys WRT350N with Storage Link router is the next step up from the company's WRT300N router. Based on Draft 2.0 of the 802.11n spec, it's a standard four-port Gigabit Ethernet router that also serves up a USB port for sharing the contents of a USB hard drive or flash drive across the network. While it offers great features, it didn't fare as well as some of its competition in CNET Labs' tests. Given its high price and lackluster performance, we're reluctant to recommend this Draft-N router. Unless you absolutely need the Storage Link feature, we recommend the D-Link DIR-655 for its fast throughput.
The WRT350N router uses the same body as the WRT300N, though its body is silver and black instead of blue and black. It also uses the same three-antenna configuration: two standard antennas and one paddle antenna in the center. All three swivel and rotate so you can maximize your wireless signal. The back edge houses the usual single WAN port and four LAN ports--all Gigabit Ethernet--as well as the power port and a single USB port. The front edge is adorned with status lights that correspond to the ports on the back, as well as show whether you have an Internet connection, have wireless broadcasting enabled, and the status of your wireless security.
Setup is simple. Linksys includes a setup CD that walks you through the steps of connecting cables and installing the drivers. If you're familiar with setting up a router and want to skip the wizard, you can simply connect the router and point your browser at the router's default IP address (192.168.1.1 for Linksys). Here, you'll find Linksys' familiar interface that lets you configure your router and security settings. The usual security suspects are all present and accounted for: WEP, WPA, WPA2, MAC address filtering, NAT and SPI firewalls, and Internet and Web filters. If you're concerned about what sites members of your household are accessing online, you can set access restrictions. Restrictions can be made on all PCs on the network or specific ones (set by MAC address, IP address, or IP range), and Internet access can be blocked by day and time, or you can manually block specific URLs or keywords.
What really sets the WRT350N apart from most of the Draft-N routers we've seen is the inclusion of a USB port for connecting storage devices. A tab in the router's configuration interface lets you manage the devices, as well as control who has particular access to them. If you connect an empty drive, you can create partitions. If you're connecting a drive that already has content, you can get information about that drive, such as the type of file system, partitions, and total and free space. If you choose, you can also erase the disk here. As the router's administrator, you can set shares to the storage devices, or who has access and what type. The two options are guest (read-only) and admin (read/write). The router also features a built-in UPnP media server that can push multimedia content out to various UPnP devices on your network, such as a digital media adapter. It also offers an FTP server, so you can dish out files from your storage device to outside your network.
In the CNET Labs' tests, the Linksys WRT350N router was in the middle of the pack for maximum throughput at 10 feet, though well behind the D-Link DIR-655 router, with a score of 76.1Mbps. It fell to the back of the pack in our mixed-mode test with a score of 25.2Mbps, and again in our long-range tests with a score of 16.8Mbps. With the exception of the mixed-mode tests, its scores were about the same as those of the Linksys WRT300N router.