Asus's new router, the WL-700gE, just arrived at our offices this morning. We haven't finished testing it yet, but if the router can do just half of what the company claims, it's going to be awesome. At first glance, it looks like an 802.11b/g router tricked out with NAS functionality, thanks to its 160GB internal hard drive. Looking closer reveals it can do so much more. And all for about $260 from some online retailers.
Perhaps most interesting, and potentially controversial, is the router's ability to manage FTP, HTTP, and BitTorrent downloads itself. According to Asus, you can initiate downloads from the router and they'll be saved to its internal hard drive. For all those college students who download the latest--cough--Linux distributions on 6 DVDs--cough--overnight, the WL-700gE will let them turn off their noisy PCs and save data right to the router. The router also has a USB port, which lets you connect an external hard drive for more storage or as a backup--the router has RAID 0 and 1 capabilities. You can also plug in other USB media and have the device's contents transferred to the router with the push of a button. Plugging a printer or a Webcam into the port will let any computer connected to the network share the peripheral.
The router also supports a multitude of internal and external file sharing protocols. It has a Web server, so you can host your own pages and files both inside your network and, with its DDNS service, out to the rest of the Internet. The router can also share music stored on its hard drive to computers running iTunes and Xbox 360s connected to the network (for the geeks out there, it has both a DAAP and a UPnP/DLNA server, so it is compatible with any devices that work with those standards).
Verizon may claim it sells the "Ultimate Media Razr," but the Asus WL-700gE has the potential to be the Ultimate Media Router. We're testing it now, so check back soon for a full review.