MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.
- Easy to setup, fast wireless transfers, good wireless reach
- Web filters can be a little confusing to set-up
Overall, it's easy to set-up and it produced fast wireless results in our tests. If you're after a new wireless router with draft-n capability, the DIR-615 is a relatively inexpensive option.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
This wireless router can capably distribute the Internet connection from an ADSL or cable modem over its 4-port, 10/100 Ethernet switch and 802.11b/g/n wireless access point.
It's a relatively inexpensive router, which makes it a decent choice for any users who want to move to an 802.11 draft-n network. Of course, draft-n adapters will also be needed, which start from around $100, but the advantages of draft-n are more speed for wireless transfers over the same distance as 802.11g networks, as well as greater coverage over longer distances.
With 300Mbps of wireless bandwidth on offer, the DIR-615 is well suited to video streaming and transferring large files on a local network. During our tests, an 802.11 draft-n file transfer averaged a transfer rate of 5.62MBps at 1m away from the router, and 5.21MBps at 10m away and with a double-brick wall as an obstacle. Moving up to 13m away and with two double-brick walls as an obstacle, the same file transfer averaged 4.39MBps, which is an excellent result. These results were obtained with a Linksys WPC300N notebook adapter, so the DIR-615 will definitely 'play nice' with other vendors' adapters.
Another advantage of the 300Mbps bandwidth is that it can be adequately shared amongst multiple PCs and notebooks. We streamed a 659Kbps ASF video file to our 802.11 draft-n-equipped notebook while transferring a file to our 802.11g-equipped notebook. The file transfer averaged 2.14MBps (the same rate that was averaged when the transfer was conducted on its own) and the video played stutter-free for the most part, although it did drop a few frames when the 802.11g file transfer was almost two-thirds complete. While streaming videos to the 802.11 draft-n and 802.11g notebooks simultaneously, we didn't notice any stuttering or any dropped frames, which means that at least two notebooks can wirelessly stream different video files from the same file server at a distance of around 10m away from the router, without any problems.
As for distance, the DIR-615 reached just over 20m (with brick walls and other obstacles in the way) before our video stream became unwatchable. This result is better than what we've experienced with 802.11g-based networks during the same test.
All our wireless tests were conducted with WPA (WPA or WPA2 mode) encryption enabled. This WPA mode actually allows clients using either WPA or WPA2 encryption (with TKIP or AES ciphers) to connect to the router, which is very convenient for environments which have clients that use either of those types of encryption.
For security while connected to the Internet, the DIR-615 has a built-in firewall and anti-spoof protection, which can guard against IP addresses that aren't real (or spoofed). It also has provision for restricting the Internet access and logging the Web access of any clients that are connected to the router. It's not overly simple to enable this, as access control settings and Web filter settings need to be set up separately from two different pages, but once it's set-up, it will conspicuously block Web pages that feature any flagged keywords.
Elsewhere, the DIR-615 has all the network features expected of a decent wireless router, including port-forwarding, port-triggering, DMZ and virtual server functions and it's an easy router for novices to set up, thanks primarily to the setup CD that accompanies the router, which has step-by-step instructions on connecting to the Internet and setting up a wireless network connection.
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Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
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