The D-Link DHP-1320 PowerLine Router is the first all-in-one router we've seen, and it delivers for the most part. The router offered decent close-range wireless speed and worked well with most HomePlug AV adapters in our testing. It also has an USB port and a decent set of features that can be conveniently managed via its responsive and well-organized Web interface.
On the downside, the router doesn't feature dual-band or support Gigabit Ethernet and comes with just three LAN ports, whereas most wireless routers have four. For the street price of around $85, however, it's a good buy for a home that requires a flexible network and doesn't have intensive networking needs.
Design and ease of use
The D-Link DHP-1320 PowerLine Router looks very much like a regular wireless router, though slightly bulkier, with two removable antennas sticking up from its back. Also on the back you'll find a WAN port (to be connected to an Internet source) and three LAN ports (for wired clients). There's also a USB port, a recessed reset button, the power button, and a switch for changing between router and access point modes.
The USB port can be used with D-Link's SharePort technology, which enables any USB device to work with a network computer as though it were connected to the computer directly, or with Microsoft's Windows Connect Now (WCN). WCN is an old but handy technology that allows you to transfer a router's encryption key from the router to a Windows computer using a USB key, sparing you from having to remember the encryption key.
On the side, the router has a WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) button, which is another convenient way to add wireless clients to the encrypted wireless network. Press this button and you open a 2-minute time window in which other WPS-enabled devices can join the network without you having to enter the encryption key manually. Next to this button is the power-line security button, which creates a secure power-line network with other D-Link or compatible power-line adapters.
On the front, like most routers, the DHP-1320 has an array of little LED lights that show the status of all the ports on the back, as well as the wireless, Internet, and power-line connections.
The most noticeable thing about the router's design is its power supply, which is housed inside the router itself, explaining its larger physical size. This means you can use any standard power cord with the device. This is because the power supply now doubles as a power-line adapter, so the cord also works as a data cable. Once plugged in, the router, while functioning like all wireless routers, also acts as one end of a power-line connection. You just need to plug other HomePlug AV power-line adapters, such as the WD Livewire or the Linksys PLS300, into different power sockets around the house and have yourself a complete power-line network. With other routers, you'll also need another adapter connected to the router itself.
The router comes with a CD that contains the wizard-based D-Link Router Quick Setup desktop software. Following the wizard, we were able to get everything up and running, including connecting to the Internet and other wireless clients and setting up the power-line connections, within just a few minutes. Alternatively, you can use the Web-based interface--which is well thought out, responsive, and more comprehensive than the desktop application--by turning a connected computer's browser to the router's default IP address, which is 192.168.0.1.
As the first all-in-one router we've seen, the D-Link DHP-1320 PowerLine Router obviously has more to offer than other wireless routers. You now have wired, power-line, and wireless networking technology in one place. However, each of these could use some upgrading to be future-proof.
For the wired network, the DHP-1320 doesn't support Gigabit Ethernet, which is a big minus for those who want a fast wired network. Also, the fact that it has only three LAN ports somewhat mitigates the significance of the built-in PowerLine support. This is because while other routers don't have this support, again, they tend to offer four LAN ports. The second minor disappointment is the router's power line, which supports only HomePlug AV standard, which caps at 200Mbps. It would be much better if it supported the new Trendnet TPL-401E2K power-line adapter kit does. And finally, the DHP-1320 doesn't feature dual-band wireless, either, working only on the 2.4GHz band., the way the
All of these shortcomings, however, don't mean that it is no good as a router. The device worked as expected in our testing and it has a nice Web interface and a good set of networking features, including D-Link's SharePort technology.
SharePort comes with a software application called SharePort Utility that you'll need to install on your network computers. The software allows the computer to recognize a USB device plugged into the router as if it were plugged directly into the computer's USB port. For this reason, unlike other USB-equipped routers that support only printers and external hard drives, thanks to SharePort the DHP-1320 can share virtually any USB device over your network.
SharePort does have a big drawback, however: only one PC can access one USB device plugged into the router at a time. So, if one person is using a printer that's plugged into the router, others won't have access to it until it is released by the first user by means of the SharePort Network USB software. This makes SharePort a little less appealing than a traditional print-serving feature that would allow the printer to be accessed by multiple computers at a time.
We tried the SharePort USB port with multiple devices, including external hard drives, cameras, and printers, and it worked as intended. If you want to use this port to host a hard drive or a printer to share with other computers, it is possible. All you have to do is share the USB device via the one computer that has control over it, the same way you would share a folder or a printer that's plugged directly into that computer. This seems to be a workaround to spare you from having to install SharePort Utility software on multiple computers. However, this also means the host computer has to be powered on for the USB device to be available to the rest of the network.