This article first appeared in HWM Jun 2011.
Prolink's WNR1008 may appear like a nondescript router, but don't be fooled by its simple design, as for once, this device is more than what it seems to be.
Dressed in a matte black body with rounded edges, this conventional-looking router is aesthetically a far cry from swankier offerings such as the ASUS RT-N56U. On its top, you'll find a generous spread of LED status indicators for each Ethernet port, including additional status lights for USB, WLAN, WPS, WAN, SYS and Power.
You'll also find a USB 2.0 slot and WPS button positioned on each side. Besides its aptitude for 3G sharing (i.e. mobile hotspot), the USB port also enables you to share USB data over the network. For example, content on an external hard drive can be accessed via FTP or Samba. For those on Windows, FTP is understandably the easiest and fastest way to go. Media streaming is also catered for with DLNA and iTunes server support.
Connectivity-wise, this router features a standard 4-port gigabit switch on its rear panel. And you might also spy a tiny "Router/AP/Converter" switch that hints at the device's versatile capabilities. As for its operational band, this wireless-N router works between 2.412 to 2.483 GHz, and comes equipped with two detachable antennas.
Prolink's browser interface is a plain Jane, but helped greatly by a concise layout. In terms of features, this router has much to offer. As you might have guessed, the WNR1008 can operate as a router, access point, and even in repeater mode (WDS). Noticeably, it can also create up to four virtual APs with unique SSIDs. Channel bonding is an option on this MIMO router, and so are standard encryptions like WPA2-AES. While the WNR1008 also performs tricks such as port forwarding and URL filtering, traffic prioritization (QoS) appears to be missing from its checklist.
As for WLAN performance, Prolink deserves a pat on the back for its speedy transfer rates. At 2, 10 and 25 meters, average downlink throughput was clocked at 69Mbps, 44Mbps and 40Mbps respectively. With WPA2-AES enabled, the router also emerged unscathed with a laudable showing of 73Mbps at 2 meters. However, UDP streaming faltered in a number of instances, dropping up to 15KB worth of data at the 25-meter mark.
To sum it up, the Prolink WNR1008 isn't faultless, but given its affordable price and excellent throughput performance, it would be hard to pass up on this multi-faceted router in favor of those more pleasing to the eye.