At the street price of around $70, the Trendnet TEW-639GR Wireless N Gigabit Router is among the most affordable Wireless-N routers, with support for Gigabit wired networking. The router also performs well in our tests with high throughput performance. Despite the fact that its range was relatively short compared with some other N routers, the TEW-639GR is a decent choice for home and small business environments, where both the N speed and Gigabit wired connections are required.
Design and ease of use
The Trendnet TEW-639GR's design is traditional, with a rectangular shape and three antennas sticking up from its back, where its network ports are. Generally, we prefer to see these antennas on the sides of the router, away from the ports, for easy access. However, in the case of the TEW-639GR, since the router lacks USB ports, having three antennas isn't as troubling as it could be
The router includes four LAN ports (for network Ethernet-ready devices) and one WAN port (to be connected to the Internet, for example, via a broadband modem) on the back. The ports are Gigabit, meaning they are capable of delivering wired connection speeds up to 1,000Mbps. Also on the back of the router, you'll find a WLAN switch that quickly turns the router's wireless signal on or off.
On the front, like most routers of this design, the TEW-639GR has an array of LEDs that show the status of the network ports on the back as well as that of the Internet connection and the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS). WPS is a feature that allows you to quickly add a client to the wireless network. The WPS LED illuminates when you push the WPS button on the side of the router and shows the time frame in which a WPS-enabled client can be hooked to the network.
The TEW-639GR doesn't ship with any desktop setup software, just a quick setup guide that walks you through the setup process setup by step. 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 done and set up with the default settings. Easy enough. You can further customize this by pointing your browser to the router's IP address, which, by default is 192.168.10.1
The TEW-639GR's Web interface is responsive and works with any browser. When the user chooses to apply the new changes to the router's settings, the interface has a clear indicator that shows the process from beginning to end. This is very helpful. In many other routers' Web interfaces, you'll just have to keep refreshing the page until it shows up again.
Apart from allowing you to change the basic networking settings such as the name of the wireless network, the encryption key, and so on, the interface gives you access to the TEW0639GR's more-advanced features. One of these features is Access Control, which allows you to restrict certain computers in the network from certain Internet services such as Web browsing, e-mailing, and chatting. This feature is rather limited, however, as you can't restrict specifically to a particular Web site or a service provider. Other advanced features are Virtual Servers, which allow you to make a computer in the network host a service, such as FTP or HTTP; Gaming, which prioritizes Internet traffic for certain games; and a few others.
Other than that, the TEW-639GR lacks other common features found in high-end routers, such as dual-band or guest networking, which lets you create a separate wireless network for guests. The router is also not very comprehensive when it comes to assigning a fixed IP address to a computer in the network. You will need to find out about that computer's MAC address and type it in manually. Other routers can display this information, and you can just assign a fixed IP to any of them with a few clicks.
For security, the TEW-639GR supports virtually all existing encryption methods currently used for wireless routers, including all the variations of the WEP and WPA encryption standards. As mentioned above, the router fully supports Wi-Fi protected setup, so most of the time, you won't have to worry about memorizing the encryption key.
The TEW-639GR met our expectations with its performance, except for its range, which is rather short at about 210 feet, compared with 270 feet in most N routers. Its throughput performance, however, was much better.
In the throughput test, where the router was set up to offer the best possible transfer speed, the TEW-639GR scored 47.3Mbps, which was among the fastest for single-band N routers. At this speed, you can finish transferring 500MB of data in about 80 seconds. In the range test, where the client is put 100 feet away from the router, the score was lowered to 25.7Mbps, which is a little higher than average.
In our mixed-mode test, where the router was set to work with both N and legacy G clients at the same time, the TEW-639GR also scored 25.7Mbps, which is low among single-band N routers.
Overall, the TEW-639GR performed well in our tests. However, it didn't successfully pass our 48-hour stress test, where we set up the router to constantly transmit a large amount of data between different clients for two days. During this time, the router disconnected twice, each time for a few seconds. Though what happened wasn't really bad for most situations, online gamers might get kicked out of the game when this occurs.
Service and support
Trendnet backs the TEW-639GR with a generous three-year warranty (compared with one year for most routers). The toll-free technical phone support is available 24-7, even when the warranty runs out. TrendNet's Web site offers comprehensive self-help tools including the Configuration Emulator , which shows the look and feel of the router's Web interface and its features. There are also other download materials such as manuals and the latest firmware.