Design & Features
This is a peculiar association, but an image of Bumblebee's yellow Camaro and black racing stripes sprang to mind when we first encountered the ESR9855G. Transformable robots aside, EnGenius has crafted a conventional yet unconventional implementation with their recent networking fetish. How so? Conventional, because of a predictable form factor with a row of blue LED indicators lined up in front. The router's top is sparse, save for a WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) button. Incidentally, you can restart the unit by depressing the button for 6 to 10 seconds. Unconventional, because its body is clad in yellow (orange to some) and black, as opposed to plain white or black.
Also, EnGenius has deployed two MIMO antennas instead of the usual three; and with a rather unusual placement as well. That's right, the two detachable 3dBi rods are located at the sides rather than at the rear. Turn the networking device around, and you might not spot anything amiss at the onset. However, it soon became apparent that the ESR9855G is missing an anticipated USB port typically offered by recent AP offerings. In other words, you won't get to enjoy added features such as print server functions, or network data sharing with a plugged-in USB drive as far as this device goes. Thankfully, what it does offer, on the other hand, is four Gigabit LAN ports and a Gigabit WAN connector on its hub. Another atypical but practical addition is an inclusion of a power switch. Essentially, the ESR9855G isn't an ostentatious piece brandishing 'premium' panels such as D-Link's DIR-685 or Belkin's N1 Vision. Still, this router isn't too much of an eyesore when placed next to your desktop, not unless you have something against its cheerful dress code.
The ESR9855G's web interface is pleasant and manageable, thanks to EnGenius. To access the router's UI application, key in the default IP (192.168.1.1) on your browser's address bar before entering the given ID and pass phrase. A word of caution though. Some of the settings can be a little daunting to those unfamiliar with networking terms, like UDP/TCP Endpoint Filtering under the Firewall settings just to cite an example. If you don't know what you're dealing with, simply click on the "Help" link found on the left strip.
The router has two main traffic prioritizing applications - Ubicom's StreamEngine and WISH (Wireless Intelligent Stream Handling). The StreamEngine's QoS algorithms don't require excessive tampering, but you can add specific rules with different priorities if need be. This feature isn't new by any means, but it is invaluable for multiple clients on applications which demand a sizable upstream bandwidth, such as online gaming or video conferencing for instance. To augment this, EnGenius has thrown in a WISH prioritization feature, which includes a Windows Media Center (WMC) attribute as well. This will come in handy if you're relying on WMC for streaming purposes. The radio spectrum supports 13 channels in total. However, it's riding on a single 2.4GHz radio, which explains its dual-band deficit associated with most gaming and media routers such as D-Link's DGL-4500 that was popular in the States during its time.
Based on the 1.0.07 firmware, we are pleased to report that the router doesn't require a reboot with every single change of its system settings. More importantly, it only takes 15 seconds for the router to refresh itself. Other features of the ESR9855G include DDNS, port forwarding, and SPI firewall amongst others.