Review

Hands On: Dlink DIR - 685 review, part 1

Our friends over at Dlink have sent us one of their latest products, the DIR- 685.  While this product has been on the market for a little bit, we never pass up a chance for a hands on review, and besides, we will be giving this router away!

This review will be a two part series, this part will mainly consist of a quick overview the initial thoughts about the device, in about a weeks’ time, a more detailed ‘review’ will be posted to go over extended use and user experience.

The device came in a package as you would expect, a typical box with a plastic tray holding all of the components that consisted of the router, power supply, router stand, install CD, and instructions. 

The device is at heart a router, but, unlike a typical router that is boring on the outside; this device boasts a small LCD screen.  The screen can be used for things like viewing pictures, showing data pass-through widgets, or be used as a clock.  While the screen is quite small for photo displaying at 3.1 inches (meaning don’t buy this router because you want an LCD photo frame) the stand does keep the router upright and does make for easy viewing.  By far the best widget on the device is the one that displays speed at which your data is being received or disbursed, sure it’s a novelty, but to be able to see it in real time on the router helps separate this device from others on the store shelf.

One of the features that could be most desirable is the ability to stick 2.5-inch SATA hard drive into the router.  By doing this, you have turned the router into a NAS (Networked Attached Storage).  You also save some space too, as you don’t have a bulky drive attached, although there are also two USB ports on the back of the device that would allow you to connect a USB based drive too. 

The product is adamant about installing the software before using the router, a sticker, actually inhibits you from using the device until you peel it off.  But, like any gadget nerd, I plugged it in without installing the software.

To my surprise, unlike my current router, this one setup a secure network.  When paired with Windows 7, the prompts that Windows gave me allowed me to create a secured network first.  The fact that at no point was my network vulnerable is reassuring, especially for those who are not network savvy, this step was a breeze.  While I’m not 100% convinced that it was the Dlink router that did this, when I hooked up my other router (non-Dlink) its default setting was an open, unsecured network and I had to use the routers software to apply a password. 

So far the router has been a joy to setup and use, while its not perfect as it’s not a dual-band router, it does have a lot going for it.  As it has only been used to its basic requirements, further comments will come in the second part that will focus more on usability and the reliability of the device.

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59 Comments

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I wish I could ability to stick 2.5-inch SATA hard drive into my one router, I think that is just great.

plus been able to set up a secured network out of the box is going to be a big help.

I don't know about the LCD screen but it might bug me just a bit.

Wow, I SO want this. Especially since I'm planning to build a desktop for my parents in the other room... (meaning I don't even have a wireless router at this moment :p)

mmacquarrie said,
Does the "Stop! Insert CD and run wizard first" instruction make this Plug n'Play or Play n'Plug?

Hahahah, good remark.

This looks the dogs nipples. I too like the ability to add a hard drive, may havs to look into purchasing one of these. If I don't win one of course :P

I really like the feature of being able to install a hard drive. VERY nice feature. I hope other routers pick up on this idea as well...

Angel Blue01 said,
So I guess the software isn't so important :p

I think he meant that the reviewer ignored the instructions to install the software first... I hope it doesn't cause some problems during the review that would be blamed on the router... ;)

Can`t understand why they put the inputs on the bottom (back) not the side! I know it`s supposed to stand up but some people may wan`t to put it flat, and if you do that it`s going to have to be screen down...

These reviews and comments are all very nice, but what happens to these routers when you start stressing them with a lot connections? I had a Dlink DIR-655 and it rebooted 5 times a day or plain hangged and dropped all connections. Support? Nothing.

I bought a Cisco/Linksys WRT610N to replace it - plug and forget.

Oh, yes... almost forgot. I told my work mate the Dlink story when he was buying a router but he still went and got a Dlink DIR-635 agains my advice because "the reviews were good". Well... he has the exact same problems I did. I will never buy Dlink again, even if they wrap it in gold, which is what they are doing with this one... wake up people, it is a router - it needs to do that well. The rest is smoke. Just want to see the results in the long run when you stress it... ;)

I wonder how long before OpenWRT and dd-wrt support it, and perhaps do something meaningful with the drive and display.

Xepol said,
I wonder how long before OpenWRT and dd-wrt support it, and perhaps do something meaningful with the drive and display.

If it is anything like my DIR-655 was then never - the chipset is not supported.

I actually own that DIR 685 router. I've had it for a couple months already.
It works fine.

Some things that I wish could be changed:
- The widgets, like weather, rss, etc... don't get updated most of the time on the LCD display. You have to manually refresh it.
- The clock on it seems to be slower. So after a while, the time on the router is behind a few minutes if you don't update it. Mine yesterday was 15min behind.
There's an option in the admin interface to automatically update the time from Dlink's servers (you can only choose Dlinks servers) but it doesn't seem to work.
- QOS is not customizable. All you have for it is a "Lag eliminated (VoIP, Streaming)" checkbox and 2 settings to input your max upload and download bandwidth.
- When you go to the device info to check what devices/machines are connected to your router, it doesn't work properly. I have 3 wired machines connected to it and it only shows 1, even though they're all on working properly with internet access and access to the other computers on the network.
- Support for this router: NULL. There's hasn't been a single firmware update since July 2009, which is when the router came out. Yes, the only firmware available is the stock one.
The support forum for this router doesn't seem to have any post from a Dlink rep or dev.

Now, there are some things I like about this router (stuff I couldn't do with my old router):
- You can actually set up a 2nd wireless network. Its called the "Guest Zone". So if you have a lot of people coming at your place with an iPhone or laptop, they can just connect to the guest zone so that they can't access the files you're sharing on your main network. And if you wanted them to, then it is possible by checking a checkbox. The guest zone is very customizable. You have all the features you get when setting up a WLAN (like which name for the network, security mode, IP address, etc...).
- Since I don't use the widgets for the LCD display, I instead use the "Statistics". It shows you in real time the speed being used for Internet, Wireless and Network. So you have 3 wheels that shows you that and the numerical value underneath it.
- Performance is good wired and wireless. I can smoothly stream 1080p mkv videos to my XBMC box (uses wireless N) in the bedroom from my PC with the router being located in the living room.
- Beside QOS, the admin interface is rich and lots of things are customizable.

I honestly don't think this router is worth $300. For a device of that price, Dlink doesn't even give it any support. This router definitely needs a firmware upgrade to sort out all the bugs.
That being said, the router works fine.

Moker said,
not wireless??

It is wireless (wireless-N, in fact); but single-band N (2.4 GHz). It's the NAS features that make this router pricey, however; problem is that it competes with the often-cheaper Linksys WRT-610N v2 (which throws in the second band) and Netgear's WNDR-3700 (like the Linksys, dual-band N and external-only NAS support via USB), WNR-3500L (single-band N, like the DIR-685; but nearly half its price) and even WNR-3500 v2 (same chipset as the WNR-3500L, but no USB/NAS support).

PGHammer said,

It is wireless (wireless-N, in fact); but single-band N (2.4 GHz). It's the NAS features that make this router pricey, however; problem is that it competes with the often-cheaper Linksys WRT-610N v2 (which throws in the second band) and Netgear's WNDR-3700 (like the Linksys, dual-band N and external-only NAS support via USB), WNR-3500L (single-band N, like the DIR-685; but nearly half its price) and even WNR-3500 v2 (same chipset as the WNR-3500L, but no USB/NAS support).

I can not comment for the others but I am VERY happy with my WRT-610N

The perfect router for us geeks! I have been looking for a NAS solution for a while and this definitely fits the bill!

Leo said,
The perfect router for us geeks! I have been looking for a NAS solution for a while and this definitely fits the bill!

If you want a NAS, do yourself a HUGE favor, and get an HP MediaSmart Server instead. After almost 25 years of building my own computers, setting up countless networks, and being an all-around geek, it was hands down THE BEST computer purchase I have ever made.

while the features on this router are great, have worked at a retailer earlier, and the fact the we had 50% returns on dlink hardware, due to psu failures and general hardware problems, i would stick with my trusty linksys we seldom had any returns with linksys :)

but; I bet that if d-link would change their supplier of psu's for the norwegian/nordic marked, so that they would handle a poweroutage without dieing on you, i would reccomend it :)


Most routers these days have WPS which Windows Vista and 7 (even my Blackberry Bold 9000 with 5.0 software). Whenever Windows connects to a router that supports it, it gives the option to create the passworded WPA encryption whenever you first connect to it.

SHoTTa35 said,
Most routers these days have WPS which Windows Vista and 7 (even my Blackberry Bold 9000 with 5.0 software). Whenever Windows connects to a router that supports it, it gives the option to create the passworded WPA encryption whenever you first connect to it.

This feature appeared first in the much-maligned Windows Vista (I first encountered it with Linksys' WRT-310N) and (believe it or not) Windows XP Service Pack 2 (the feature is called Windows Protected Setup). Practically every Linksys router (and most routers from their competitors, including D-Link, Netgear, Buffalo, and ASUS) supports this feature. (What drives the FOSS crowd cwazy is that while a WPS-supporting router can have Linux clients, they still have to be configured in the usual fashion - manually, in other words.)

bdsams said,

there will be a seperate post in a week or so with the details

So in 3 months give a take a few months? :p

had the same experience with a cisco router i recently bought. Also stickers with install software first, ofcourse I ignored it. Plugged it in, and to my suprise couldn't use it before i had gone through a wizard in windows 7 (automatically started when trying to connect to the network) that prompted me to configure the router for first use. I thought it was a nice touch actually :D

crispkreme said,
Hmm, maybe I'll stick an SSD in there...
Just trying to sounds cool um? Um, epic failure my friend! ;)

Looks pretty good actually. Great timing, since im looking to replace my WRT54GC who just died. :)

djpailo said,
Why would you need a LCD screen on a router?

why does this happen on all of the news stories, people that don't read the articles before posting bugs me to death!

On a side note, this router is awesome!

clotz2000 said,

why does this happen on all of the news stories, people that don't read the articles before posting bugs me to death!

They want to be one of the "first comments", whatever the hell that means.

vette said,

They want to be one of the "first comments", whatever the hell that means.

Yeah, damn kiddies thinking anyone gives a **** whom comments first.