Closer Look at TEW-611BRP
It’s time to take a closer look at the hero of this review, the TEW-611BRP router.
The wireless section of this device is based on the AR5005VL (VLocity) chipset from Atheros which supports the exclusive Super G Turbo technology for higher bandwidth. These are the key points of this technology:
- Frame bursting
- Fast frames
- Frame compression
- Channel bonding – the so-called Turbo mode
So, the doubling of the bandwidth (in comparison with 802.11g) is achieved mainly by joining channels rather than by means of MIMO technology which is implemented here to improve the coverage in the first place. The maximum theoretical speed of wireless data transmission is 108Mbps; the real bandwidth, considering the overhead, is 50-70Mbps.
This link leads to the product specs page on the manufacturer’s website.
Besides the TEW-611BRP, the box contains a switching power supply, a patch cord, a quick installation manual, and a CD with a detailed user manual in PDF format. The manual is of little practical value, though, because all its texts are duplicated in the router’s web interface.
The case of the TEW-611BRP isn’t elegant like cases of some products from Belkin or Linksys, for example. It is a plain square box with two external antennas. The device can be wall-mounted. The LEDs on the device’s front panel indicate activity of the interfaces. On the back panel there are five RJ-45 ports (one for WAN interface and four for LAN), a power connector and a Reset button (to reboot the router in case of failure or to roll back to the factory settings). There’s also a wireless interface switch on the back panel, but it doesn’t physically turns the interface off. The switch just tells the router’s firmware if the WLAN interface is to be initialized at boot-up or not. Changing the position of the switch always provokes a reboot of the router which lasts for about 10 seconds and terminates all the established connections (including wired ones).
The router is set up via a web interface; no alternatives (e.g. via ssh, telnet or SNMP protocols) are provided. This fact makes the TEW-611BRP less suitable for large complex networks in which it might be necessary to run automatic scenarios depending on the device status (for example, its reboot in case of certain problems). On the other hand, this doesn’t matter much for home and small office networks this router is mainly targeted at.
By default the web interface is only available from the local network (that is, it responds to connections to the router’s LAN interfaces), but can also be invoked on the external WAN interface, too.
Appropriately for a SOHO device, the web interface of the TEW-611BRP is simple, easy-to-use, and logical so that even users with just the basic knowledge of network technologies could set up the router. The most important parameters like the security mode of the WLAN interface and the method of assigning an IP address to the WAN interface can be chosen in the menu system or with the help of two step-by-step wizards. After you’ve passed through each step of these wizards and rebooted the router, the device is in fact ready to work. At least the default values of other parameters allow that. Thus, it is only going to take you 5-10 minutes to get the router up and running.
The setup procedure isn’t without drawbacks, though. It takes some 5-6 seconds to save the changes. You also need to reboot the device (and this takes some time, too) to apply most of the settings. This would be understandable with respect to the parameters of the radio interface, but packet filtering settings, for example, might be applied “on the fly”. On the other hand, such devices are usually set up once and for all, so you will hardly have to change the router’s parameters too often.
The router’s menu consists of four basic elements: Basic, Advanced, Tools, and Status. There are submenus under each element.
Let’s browse through the web interface together to get an idea of the device’s capabilities.