15 Apr 2019
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Hands on review: D-Link D-Fend AC2600 Wi-Fi Router

By Darren Price

D-Link’s D-Fend AC2600 Wi-Fi Router looks like a slick bit of mainstream consumer tech aimed more at novice users wanting a bit of internet security. In truth, the device is so much more, as FutureFive’s Darren Price found out.

In the interest of full disclosure, this device is probably not aimed at the likes of me. Despite, choosing, rather awesomely, to launch the product in Australia, with an advanced screening of Captain Marvel, the D-Link’s D-Fend seem more of a device for those with grave concerns about internet security than for cynical tech-types like me.

A parent myself, as my kids grow up, I find myself switching from doing my absolute best to maximise the house’s internet connectivity to taking steps to limit it. Kids are crafty, and whilst I don’t subscribe to the tabloid, knee-jerk, internet fearmongering, having a good handle on your kids’ internet access makes sense.

Despite its more lounge-friendly white stylings, the D-Fend AC2600 is still a D-Link router. You can plug it into your network and access it via the no-nonsense D-Link web interface just as you can any other D-Link router. For me this is good as I can see we are not just getting sanitised bit of consumer tech. From the very familiar D-Link web interface I can adjust all my setting like DNZ, port forwarding etc. just as always. And this is good.

The flipside of this is the more consumer-centric mobile app-based set-up. This is the way that the D-Fend is really supposed to be set up. This is obvious by the lack of any real instructions in the box, save to just download the D-Link Wi-Fi app.

If you’ve already decided to do your own thing and set it up manually, as I did, the app set-up won’t go well. I quick factory reset later, and the app set-up worked fine. The hot take from this is: 1. Download the app, 2. Follow the app’s instructions and ignore any thoughts that you know better, as you don’t.

Using the D-Link Wi-Fi app to set-up the device is a breeze, you just scan the QT code on the enclosed card and you are away. The D-Link app will also ask you to download another app, the McAfee D-Fend app, this is the app that examines your network and allows you to set up all your kids' devices with profiles for each kid. Once this all set-up, with one button press you have total control of each of your kids’ internet access. Nya-ha-ha!

The D-Fend app also allows you to check the security on each device on the network, any PC or mobile device can be sent a message allowing a copy of McAfee LiveSafe to be installed. That’s a two-year subscription to a premier antivirus and security package for all your compatible devices. No need to rely on that dodgy “free” antivirus software constantly spamming you with upgrade messages.

If you want to set-up your DMZ and port forwarding, now’s the time to do it. You can access the router from your PC by clicking on the icon in your network folder or going to the URL written on the base of the device.

The D-Link D-Fend AC2600 Wi-Fi Router is also compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Personally, and maybe it is just me, but I’ve never suddenly needed an instantaneous update on my network security status. But for the fan of digital assistants, the option is there.

A I mentioned earlier, the D-Fend is a proper D-Link router. It’s powered by a 1.6Ghz Intel GRX350 dual-core CPU. We are supposed to be impressed, and perhaps we should be as we have such a prestigious company’s technology optimising our network data throughput.

The square design accommodates a unique transmitter/receiver set-up actively shaping wi-fi coverage based on your device locations using beamforming technology. Instead of having unsightly antenna sticking out of the device, it’s all tucked away inside. The router is rated at 2600Mbp with 4x4 MU-MINO (Multi User-Multi In Multi Out). This means the router talks to up to four Wi-Fi devices concurrently, rather than switching the data streams between devices. 

Adding extra Wi-Fi devices is easy using the one-button-press WPS set-up. Press the WPS button on the router and follow the prompts and you’ll be connected in no time- no need type complex passwords. The router also has a guest, allowing visitors to connect you to the internet, but without compromising your network security. 

Looking at the back of the D-Fend router, there’s a USB port for connecting a USB device such external storage for file access across the network or for use as a media server. The back of the device also has what is probably the only annoying thing about the D-Fend router.

There are only three ethernet LAN ports plus a WAN port from the modem. That’s one port less than my current router, and every router I’ve had for the past six years (and one port less than I need). As fast as wireless networks it right now, you still can’t beat a hard-wired network for gaming and high-bandwidth applications. Very disappointing. Or course, D-Link offers a range of Ethernet switches to get around this, but that’s beside the point. 

D-Link’s D-Fend AC2600 Wi-Fi Router is a useful tool to help better manage their children’s internet usage. It does not remove the need for parents to directly supervise their kids online, but it does afford a good level of control. The included McAfee security software for all your devices is a massive boon. The device is easy to set-up and control via the mobile app. But, hidden away under the hood, the D-Fend is still a great quality D-Link router for the enthusiast to tune via the standard PC D-Link web-based dashboard. 

Whilst I was expecting a very mainstream consumer user product, compromising all the nerdy bits for an easy-to-use experience, that’s not the case at all. Yes, the D-Fend router is very easy to use, allowing anybody to set-up a secure network, but it also does all the things that I would expect a more technically-orientated D-Link router to do, and that’s great. Doesn’t let the homely marketing fool you, the D-Link D-Fend AC2600 Wi-Fi Router is more than just a consumer-level device, it’s a powerful router in its own right.

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