On the exterior, the ASUS WL-700gE looks very much like a regular router, both in design and size. It has a glossy while outer shell with grills on both sides to help with air ventilation. Nine status LEDs are available out front for LAN connectivity, WAN, WiFi, IDE, Ready and On/Off indication. On the back, you have the power cable connector, four 10/100 LAN ports and an Ethernet WAN port. Since the router adheres to the standard 802.11b/g, there is only one visible dipole antenna, though it does have a second internal inverted-F PCB antenna as well. Its size belies its substantial 1.4kg weight though, which is mainly because the router houses a full-sized 3.5-inch HDD inside its pretty white shell. The WL-700gE comes with a decent sized 160GB IDE HDD, but this can easily be replaced with a larger one if you need more storage.
There is the usual ASUS EZSetup button on the rear as well which will start up and install the router's one-touch configuration wizard, for those that just want to quickly get the router's basic features up and running. One of the finer points of the configuration wizard that we liked is how it enables WEP encryption by default, which helps provide some protection for home networks. With security a big concern today, it is quite appalling how many open networks are floating around, especially in residential areas.
The WL-700gE also has a USB hub with one USB 2.0 port on the front and two at the rear. Not only does the router allow sharing of USB webcams and printers in the network, you can attach USB storage devices to increase the capacity of the router or as a quick way to share and consolidate data. Both the router's internal HDD and external USB shares can be controlled via the router's administration panel.
One of the more interesting features is the 'Copy' button beside the power switch. This feature allows direct data transfer from an attached USB drive into the router's internal HDD. Dedicated folders are automatically created and the data can then be shared on the network as well. In our tests, the Copy function itself works like a charm. However, setting up the network share can sometimes be tedious. Windows users can map the router to a drive and perform directory maintenance as per normal, but if you have to access the shares from the router's web panel, it is very limited in functionality. For example, it will not allow you do select or delete multiple files or entire folders. One thing is for sure though, the WL-700gE can be used by other operating systems, but it was designed to be Windows friendly.