Setup & Admin Panel
Setup is straight forward for anyone who’s setup a network before. However, if this is your first or second time, TRENDnet has taken the liberty to color code each of the Ethernet ports.
For some people, the labels might be obvious enough, but having the colors to distinguish the difference between the LAN and WAN ports is nice. Also, the back panel is host to two of my favorite features, On/Off switches for Wi-Fi and the router itself. Sure, you can just pull the power plug to turn it off, but these are handy and more civil ways to power off your device. Also, if you were to take your router to another location and didn’t want wireless enabled, you don’t have to worry about going through the admin panel to disable it. You can just flip the switch and you’re good to go. All of your wireless settings will remain intact too!
The TEW-691GR also features Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS). WPS’s purpose is to make it easy to setup a new device on your network. You press the WPS button on the router, then press the WPS button on your device, the device will talk to your router and automatically configure itself to connect to your network. So there’s no need to enter your long WPA password or remember your WEP key. One drawback of WPS is you have to broadcast the SSID of your router.
Once you’ve logged into the admin panel on the TEW-691GR, you’re presented with an interface similar to many other routers. Meaning that, you’ll know exactly where to go if you have previous router experience. On the other hand, if you’re lacking experience, the interface is presented in a logical manner.
One feature that I’ve become accustomed to having is Static DHCP. Static DHCP is super useful if you have servers, printers, or other devices on your network that should always have the same IP. Yet, since you’re still using DHCP, the flexibility of easily adding new devices to your network still exists. Not all routers come with this feature, so it was nice to see on the TEW-691GR.
Here’s your basic wireless settings. You can set SSID, wireless channel, and configure any WDS links. A quick note about my experience with WDS. My everyday network configuration uses WDS between two Linksys WRT54GS routers (more on that on the next page). When I saw the TEW-691GR supported WDS, I was excited. I thought I could just configure the link, and immediately replace my main WRT54GS with the TEW-691GR. Boy, was I sure wrong. After hours of going back and forth, trying a myriad of different configurations, I finally realized that it was just not going to work. Both of my WRT54GS routers were able to see the TEW-691GR, but the TEW-691GR refused to talk back to either of the WRT54GS’s. The best explanation I could find for the ‘malfunction’ is WDS isn’t a standard. Vendors can implement WDS any way they want. The lesson to be learned here is, if you’re using WDS, you may not be able to replace your current router with the TEW-691GR and have it work as expected.
Wireless security is always a hot topic when I speak with other people. Truth is, very few people actually know how secure their wireless network is, or what type of security they should use. I have chosen to use WPA2-PSK with AES cipher. One bad thing about my choice is, a few of my wireless devices don’t have support for WPA2. One device that comes to mind is my Nintendo DS “Phat”. It only has support for WEP. Well, a cool feature in the TEW-691GR makes the choice of security a non-issue. The TEW-691GR allows you to have multiple SSIDs. Each SSID can have its own encryption type, and its own MAC address filter list. Therefore, I could easily add another SSID, give it WEP encryption, and only permit the MAC of my DS to connect to that SSID. More routers should employ multiple SSID system. I wish my everyday network setup supported multiple SSIDs.
One thing that is truly annoying about the Admin Panel on the TEW-691GR is you must restart the router for any change to take effect. You must restart if you want to:
And this isn’t just a soft restart, it’s a full on reboot. All of your open connections will be dropped as you wait about 45 seconds – 1 minute for the router to completely reboot. Of course you can make a bunch of changes then reboot once to avoid multiple reboots. Although, if you want to make one change or twenty, you’re going to have to reboot the TEW-691GR for the changes to take effect. Multiple restarts are not the case on my WRT54GS. If I change the wireless settings, the WLAN would restart, but I wouldn’t lose any wired connectivity. Forwarding ports, enabling/disabling UPnP and adding entries to static DHCP are all trivial on my WRT54GS too.
Despite having to reboot for virtually any change, the TEW-691GR has a bunch of features, here’s a quick list: