A straightforward router that knows its stuff.
How many times have you tried to stream a YouTube clip at home only to have it stop halfway through because one of your siblings has started their 1.42GB download? Bandwidth-hoarding seems to be an issue plenty of people face, but other than threatening to shut down the other person’s computer, there’s precious little that you can do. Well, Western Digital (yes, the hard drive people) have come up with a solution, in the form of the My Net N900 Central Router.
Build Quality & Design
It’s rather odd that Western Digital is making routers, but the company seems to know what they’re doing with this particular model. With my review unit I received the note that ‘anyone can setup this router’, meaning that if a complete nutjob such as myself could pull it off, then the average consumer would be able to as well. The router comes with four Ethernet ports and a WAN port at the back, as well as a USB port for attaching an external drive or printer. There’s a WPS button on the front that allows you to quickly connect other compatible devices. The unit bundles with either a 1TB or 2TB internal HDD, and I was fortunate to grab the 2TB version.
Many routers claim to be easy to setup and manage, but the My Net N900 Central really takes the cake. Setting up the router was as idiot-proof as can be – you simply plug the power cable in, connect the internet cable to the WAN port, and you’re up and running. You can pop in the included CD to setup the router, or simply point your web browser to the router’s default IP address to configure it that way. I’m happy to report that I was able to setup and administer the My Net N900 Central Router from the comfort of my iPad.
The router has a clean and very user-friendly interface, where you can setup all of the router’s features with a few simple clicks. Security, remote access, firewall settings and much more are all clearly explained and available in the various tabs. There’s also a handy notification system on the top right that alerts the user to various tasks such as upgrading firmware, setting up wireless security, or changing the default administrator password.
Connectivity & Performance
What makes the My Net N900 Central special is that it intelligently monitors and prioritizes network traffic without any complicated settings or configuration. A full HD YouTube clip took about 4 seconds to start buffering and playing when connected to my regular router, but the same clip took a little over a second to start playing when I was connected to the My Net N900 Central. It’s of course worth noting that the My Net N900 Central won’t magically speed up your connection if you’ve got a low-speed Internet link to begin with. I was able to watch the entire HD clip without any interruptions, while a HTTP download finished in the background on another computer. You can of course drill down deeper into the router’s settings to manually assign QoS to specific computers or IP on your network, but out-of-the-box the router seems to do exactly what it was designed for.
The internal 2TB makes sharing media and files a breeze – users can locate the WD router in the ‘Network’ pane of Windows, and see the internal files or any attached USB storage. You can further configure access to these in the router’s options, and you can access the files remotely for free using WD2Go, either through a website or their dedicated apps such as the one for the iPad. The router also offers simple DLNA services to compatible devices, and can even be configures with Apple computers to behave as a Time Machine backup drive.
Connectivity-wise, the My Net N900 Central faired well in my basic tests. Writing a 650MB file to the internal HDD took about 1 minute 23 seconds wirelessly, and this was just a short distance away from the router. You can opt to use either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz range depending on what your requirements are, with the 5GHz option providing slightly better transfer speeds overall. However I did notice some drop in performance when moving away from the router using the 2.4GHz band, but remained fairly strong on the 5GHz one.
The My Net N900 Central Router is a surprise device from WD, given that the company hasn’t had a lot of experience with networking hardware. The My Net N900 Central is a great little addition to the home network, and its FastTrack feature ensures that the right traffic on your network gets priority. The internal HDD and remote access is another bonus, making the My Net N900 Central Router a nifty little all-in-one system that packs a good number of features in an easy-to-use interface.