Looking at my aged, ailing belkin wireless 802.11g router’s poor little antenna just teetering on a cord for so long brought tears to my eyes… the little guy fights mercilessly to stay atop countless packets of data in an endless avalanche. I also grew tired of a 100mb ethernet network and wifi-G, with a latent router-based DNS proxy 😛 Aaaaaaand considering it’s 2011, I think it’s time to do a little infrastructure upgrade to my estate commons. So, on that note, I went over to Fry’s Electronics to gather a new Wifi router.
I was pretty close to picking up an Apple Airport Extreme since it does a USB external disk sharing along with being Apple-friendly when it comes to “Airplay” and other things. I figured instead of just tossing away $179 on a wifi-N router, I’d look at the others for a bit…
That’s when I ran across the newer Netgear router(s) available. 4-port Gigabit networking, USB external disk connection for DLNA & NAS, along with being 802.11b/g/n dual-band. All of this, for $79 lower price. Now, granted it wasn’t a cool looking white box with a groove spun around the top with a fruit logo on the top, but hey! So, I picked one up and took it home to relinquish the duties of gatekeeper from my Belkin router.
Now, granted I had no idea about the DLNA capabilities of the Netgear WNDR3700 when I bought it, but once I configured my network on it and popped a USB disk onto it for NAS use, I found my Sony bluray displaying it prominently in the menu listings as a selection for music/video/pictures. I also previously had no idea that Sony (BEHIND THE SCENES!) updated the firmware on my bluray with DLNA capabilities and bugfixes.
Note: That’s one of my biggest peeves with Sony is there complete and utter disregard for consumer rights/privacy. That being said, with a network-connected device such as a Bluray player that has Netflix/Hulu Plus/etc, it’s almost impossible to avoid.
Here I sit now with keys to a possible unification in hand! Television, computer, and music are breathing distance from one another… thanks to a router upgrade.
Of course, there’s always one glitch in everything. The Sony bluray only accepts MP2 format video over DLNA, at least so far through my testing. A minor setback, as I can go the route of Apple TV and convert to it’s format easily… for now, 720×560 (widescreen 720×480) is good enough, though displayed on my television, it can get a little non-HD.
Anyway, to put a stop to the banter, the conclusion is that the Netgear WNDR3700 is a wonderful router for a home-based user looking for DLNA and/or NAS in an appliance you can forget about. The gigabit networking is a much added bonus, as I’ve transferred 12GB files across the wire in less than 20 minutes.
EDIT (Addition 4/27/2011):
After many times of the disk just magically disappearing from my Mac server’s network share (i.e. the router stopped sharing it), I’m not wasting my time with re-plugging the drive back in everytime it has issues. Right now, I have the drive plugged into my Linux laptop and rsync transferring all data to my iMac drive temporarily. After that, I’m formatting the drive HFS (Apple) and transferring all data back to the drive. I’ll share it through my Mac server now, through both SMB and AFS. At least the drive can sleep and not disappear, in that configuration. Also, iTunes will have direct USB 2.0 access to the drive instead of NAS speed access.
EDIT (Addition 12/2011):
I found a used Airport Extreme router for sale on craigslist locally, and bought it to replace the Netgear. I’m actually pretty impressed, as it’s a drop-in replacement and super easy to configure. The same drive that was attached to the Netgear did not have the same problems on the Airport, it just chugs along quickly. The thing I like about it is it’s non-web based configuration interface using the Airport Utility in OS/X. No worries about TCP/IP being up, it talks it’s own protocol, which makes configuration easy since you can tear your network apart and put it back together… over the network. The one thing that does upset me a little is that I can’t really choose to use another DNS server in the DHCP pool. A tiny thing, for now.