Gadgets tew-680mb_d4_2

Published on December 3rd, 2011 | by Greg


TRENDnet Brings Speed To Your Media Center

Speed mat­ters. We’ve dis­cov­ered this again through our last few days, as we re­lo­cate to New York City’s West Vil­lage! We’re go­ing to miss the Mis­sion, the sun­ny San Fran­cis­co weath­er, the old win­ery that of­fered a sense of his­to­ry. But it was time to move on to a quick­er pace, and where bet­ter than Man­hat­tan? I’m sure you’ll no­tice changes as we ad­just to the new cli­mate (and not just a re­newed fo­cus on cold weath­er cloth­ing to keep out the chills). But one thing won’t be dif­fer­ent: we like our net­work­ing equip­ment to be zip­py.

TREND­net’s 450 Mbps Du­al Band Wire­less-N HD Me­dia Bridge (TEW-680MB) is the per­fect ad­di­tion to your home net­work, if you ful­fill a few ba­sic re­quire­ments. First, you’ll need to have oth­er ex­ist­ing gear to re­al­ly get the most out of it- if your router isn’t al­so a du­al band, wire­less-N, 450Mbps mod­el, you won’t see the per­for­mance gains that you might. Al­so, it’s im­por­tant that your net­work need ex­pan­sion- if you don’t have a me­dia cen­ter, with gam­ing con­soles or a Roku or oth­er con­nect­ed me­dia play­er, then you might be able to pass this one by. We have all three ma­jor gam­ing con­soles, as well as a li­brary of me­dia play­ers, an In­ter­net-con­nect­ed HDTV, and Blu-ray play­ers as well. And our pri­ma­ry router con­tin­ues to be the TREND­net we re­viewed ear­li­er this year, though we do rec­om­mend the Linksys E4200 and it’s sim­i­lar fea­ture set but su­pe­ri­or in­ter­face.

But our router has al­ways been a bit far from our me­dia cen­ter area, with our pro­jec­tor and re­ceiv­er and sound sys­tem. We’ve used switch­es to com­pen­sate for this, and ran eth­er­net ca­bles around the floor. It was time to see how a wire­less so­lu­tion could work, and this one serves as a handy bridge, tak­ing that du­al-chan­nel wire­less sig­nal and send­ing through up to four con­nect­ed de­vices. We plugged in our con­soles and the pow­er ca­ble, and let the box go to work. One touch of the WPS but­ton on the box and router con­nect­ed the pair, and pret­ty much im­me­di­ate­ly, with no oth­er tweak­ing or set­up, our Xbox and PS3 were on­line and seemed faster than be­fore.

But we want­ed re­al tests, so we al­so plugged in a lap­top and did some speedtests, and no­ticed that our stream­ing speeds were def­i­nite­ly su­pe­ri­or. Hard­wiring through a switch is still prefer­able and guar­an­tees the fastest speeds, but us­ing your con­soles built-in wire­less isn’t op­ti­mal- they can’t re­al­ly make use of your fan­cy new router with their nor­mal de­fault hard­ware. By adding this bridge, you give them a new lease on their net­work­ing lives, up­grad­ing their range and speed with­out much fuss. We found the mod­el a bit on the light side, and though no unattrac­tive, cer­tain­ly not quite sleek enough to blend in with your home me­dia gear. It al­so must stand hor­i­zon­tal­ly, as far as we could tell.

At $160, it isn’t a bar­gain, but there sim­ply aren’t that many bridges in this class- most are lim­it­ed to 300 Mbps, or are sin­gle-channnel. This is a sol­id pick, at $170 MSRP but avail­able for un­der $100 on Ama­zon.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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