Firmware and Setup Manager
Advanced hardware resources are a prerogative of expensive network devices whereas good firmware can be expected from any product irrespective of its price. Of course, the developers often deliberately limit the functionality of inexpensive models’ firmware for expensive models to look even more appealing. Although rather cheap, the BR-6574n is a progressive product and should have functional firmware.
The BR-6574n is not yet supported by any project that develop alternative router firmware although such firmware already exists for the RT2880 (e.g. at DD-WRT). The latest official firmware for the BR-6574n was issued in January and is version 1.55. We used it for our tests.
The web-interface for setting the router up is somewhat different from the BR-6504n model we tested before. It has become even less simple and intuitive, we should confess.
The browser window shows a header with some information and a main section with all the settings and menus. On a successful authentication, you see a title page with large icons. After choosing an icon you will then navigate using text menus: below the header there appears a horizontal bar with links to the main groups of settings. The full path to the selected page with settings is displayed in its top left corner as a link. The pages are not overcrowded with options. Some of them offer just a single adjustable parameter.
It is actually inconvenient that all the options are collected in the main part of the window. Navigating the menu is quite a problem. We caught ourselves thinking that we had to make too many mouse clicks to do some basic things.
The pages and menus in the Setup Manager do not follow a uniform design style, which is not eye-pleasing. It looks like the designer has done his best on the façade of the interface, designing the menu items as cute icons, but forgotten about everything else. The other links are implemented as checkboxes with descriptions.
A significant drawback of the download manager of the BR-6574n is that it totally lacks an integrated Help system. The user interface is far from intuitive, so even an experienced user might occasionally want some help.
Now we will describe what settings are available to the user. Once again, the router’s setup interface is too complex and inconvenient. This also refers to the structure of pages with settings. For example, the setup options are distributed among the groups unevenly. You have to step down by only one menu level in order to update the router’s firmware, which is not a frequent operation, whereas there are as many as three menu levels down to port forwarding rules that are written far more often. Instead of placing the option of choosing the interface language as an individual item of the root menu, it might be designed as a drop-down menu, for example in the Setup Manager’s header. That would be far more practical.
But let’s get back to the setup options offered. We will first describe those groups that contain fewer settings.
Choosing the Interface Language
The Language option is for choosing the language of the interface.
It does not do anything else.
The next menu item has even less practical worth, though. It is called Quick Setup and you can use it to set up WAN connection parameters and specify the address of an external NTP server and your time zone. While a Quick Setup option of other routers allows you to set up all of the router’s basic parameters (perhaps by answering a few simple questions), the BR-6574n just offers you two pages with options as if you are setting the router up manually.
The next root menu item is far more useful and even innovative. It is called EZ View. You can use it to work with devices connected to the router via the network. You can try to access a device’s web-interface, put it into a DMZ, block the connection to it, and write rules for forwarding its ports. So, this is a handy and original means of communication with the router’s clients. There are few setup options here as yet, but we hope Edimax will add more functionality to EZ View in firmware updates.
The root menu’s Status item provides access to the router’s logs. The logs are divided into categories that show detailed information about the router’s events.
The Tools item contains maintenance-related features such as firmware update, saving a backup copy of the settings and the option of rebooting the device. Every option is standard for this product category.