With two USB ports, an LCD, support for simultaneous dual-band Gigabit Ethernet, and a price of around $150, the TEW-673GRU is Trendnet's attempt to get into the high-end wireless routers market. For the most part, the router impressed us, especially in the realm of throughput speed, but it's far from perfect.
Our biggest issue is that its USB-related features, including network storage and print serving, can't support multiple computers simultaneously. What's more, the router's throughput speed in the 2.4Ghz band could also be improved over range.
If you're looking for a router that offers real NAS function, we'd recommend the Linksys E3000 or we'd suggest getting a dedicated NAS server. Otherwise, the Trendnet TEW-673GRU is a great choice for anyone who wants a fast and reliable wireless network.
Design and ease of use
Out of the box, the Trendnet TEW-673GRU comes with a small LCD on top. Like the LCD on the D-Link DGL-4500, it shows the status and other functions of the device and replaces the traditional LED status lights. Otherwise, the router resembles other Trendnet routers: practical and rather plain.
The LCD has four navigation buttons for browsing through the displayed information like the status of the router, the number of connected clients, the speed of the Internet, the performance of each frequency band, and so on. You have to read the manual or figure out via trial and error the functions of the buttons, as they have no label. And even when you know how they work, you still have to use them a few times to get the LCD show the information you need.
On the whole, the LCD is more of a gimmick than a real feature, and we missed the traditional array of LED status lights, which instantly show you what's going on at a glance. Also, the LCD is useful only when the router is within reach of your hands. Unfortunately, since routers tend to be placed on the floor or at a corner, that usually isn't the case.
On its back, the router has only two antennae instead of the three found on other routers, such as the recently reviewed TEW-639GR. This result is a cleaner, less cluttered look. The router has four LAN ports (for wired clients) and one WAN port (to connect to an Internet source, such as a broadband router), all of which are Gigabit.
Also on the router's back are two USB ports for external storage devices or printers. The TEW-673GRU is one of few routers on the market that have two USB ports.
The router doesn't ship with any desktop setup software; instead you'll find a quick setup guide that walks you through the setup process. Basically, once you have connected the router to a computer via its LAN port and the broadband modem via its WAN port, your home network is ready to use with the default settings. Easy enough.
If you want to change the SSIDs (the wireless network names), enable the encryption or change other setting, you can customize the router further by pointing your browser to the router's IP address, which, by default is 192.168.10.1.
The TEW-673GRU has a more organized and self-explanatory Web interface than other Trendnet routers. On the left part of the interface are eight features categories, including Main, Wireless, Status, Routing, Access, Management, Tools, and Wizard. When you click on one of these categories, you'll see the related functions. Main, for example, is the place you can customize the router's DHCP server, WAN connection, password, time and other settings.
We especially like the Access category, which offers a very good parental control (or Internet filter) feature and great network customization for different applications. The filter feature allows you to manage access of clients to the local network or the Internet via MAC addresses, domains, type of traffic (protocol) and IP addresses. Here you also can change the settings of the router's firewall.
The TEW-673GRU comes with preconfigured settings for a long list of applications, including services such as NetMeeting, VoIP or for games, such as Battle.net. In addition, it has QoS Engine that allows for further customizing the traffic for interactive applications.
The router's interface also shows a list of connected clients with their names, IP addresses, and MAC addresses, making it very easy when you want to reserve a particular IP address for a device. This is a necessary feature for using a computer in the network for a particular service, such as a FTP or HTTP server.
The TEW-673GRU is a true dual-band router. It has two built-in access points for the popular 2.4Ghz frequency band and the 5Ghz band. They can work at the same time and you can turn them on or off separately.
To our disappointment, however, the router doesn't have a feature called "Guest Networking," which enables users to create a separate wireless network for guests. This comes in handy when you want to share the Internet with others, but don't want them to access your local resources such as printers or files. Most high-end routers we've reviewed have this feature.
Unlike other routers that have USB-related features, such as the Cisco E3000, you can't manage the Trendnet TEW-673GRU's two USB ports via its Web interface. Instead, you'll need to install and run a utility called "Trendnet USB Control Center" on a computer for accessing the printer or the USB external hard drive connected to the router's USB ports. Moreover, while you can use any printers or external storage devices with the ports, the device can be used with only one computer at a time.