I recently bought a heavily discounted Netgear Centria WNDR 4500 for a family member’s household; they were still using an ancient 802.11g router, so I thought it’d make a good upgrade.
Their old router was acting as a huge bottleneck. As they’re on fibre internet, which can easily exceed 54mbps, every wireless connection in their house was being limited by this component.
The WNDR 4500 has simultaneous dual N band, so it can connect to older devices on the 2.4Ghz frequency and newer ones on 5Ghz. This is useful, since many people now own a collection of devices with varying WiFi capabilities.
Coming from 802.11g, the speed improvements were immediately noticeable, with speedtest.net benchmarks improving 2-3x on a host of devices (iPhone 5, Samsung GIII, iMac, PC, iPad, etc.).
A major feature of of WNDR 4500 is its USB connectivity . You can attach a USB drive or thumbstick (or both, as it has 2 USB slots) and use them as network drives. The router’s software makes media sharing a snap, just don’t expect NAS-like performance.
Copying files to the network drive is relatively slow. I got a couple megabytes/s depending on the wifi strength, but for streaming HD movies this is more than plenty. The bottleneck in transfer speeds is likely the router’s silicon (maybe the CPU) and not the USB or network connection.
Overall, the Netgear WNDR 4500 is a solid dual band router with decent media sharing capabilities. Even better, it can usually be found at a steep discount, as it’s been obsoleted by newer models, such as the WNDR 4700.
Speaking of the WNDR 4700, it is definitely more expensive, but has one killer feature. This newer router has an internal bay that can hold a 3.5-inch hard disk, and unlike the WNDR 4500, read and write speeds are much, much faster — it’s like a low end NAS!
As I collect more wireless devices in my life, the need for a fast and always accessible network drive becomes all the more apparent. The WNDR 4500 would be fine for just media streaming, but if I want to use it for other stuff — like backups and mass data archiving — I’d definitely need the speed of the WNDR 4700.
Well, another item to add to my Amazon wish list!