By Herman Exum
Wireless routers - the bane of many users just now cutting the cord or looking to get their wireless devices connected with little fuss. There's no shortage of choices on the shelves, retail or online, and while many tout their fancy bells and whistles casual users simply looking to get wirelessly online with little hassle can get lost in their indecipherable features and high prices. Admittedly, many of these expensive routers are just what power-users have been looking for, but those who just need a fast and reliable wireless connection at home shouldn't have to go broke getting one.
At least that what Monoprice believes with their Wireless 802.11N Router with Internal Antenna and WPS Function - 2T2R MIMO, which is an insanely long name and will herein be simply referred to as the MP-RN368 for sanity’s sake.
The idea of equipping your home with only the essential wireless connectivity should be affordable and the MP-RN368 certainly delivers out of the box including the Router, Power Adapter, and installation guide/software, though you’ll have to supply an Ethernet cable yourself (sorry, not included).
Beyond that the simple styling of the router fall in line with the average budget router out there, with a smooth domed top that houses two internal antennas, 2.4GHz frequency, easy WPS setup, and Wireless Distribution System (WDS) for streamlined bridging between other routers for range extending. Not that you’d need it, as the signal range is surprisingly wide for a budget-oriented router, similar to our staff favorite, Cisco's Linksys EA3500.
If all you want is a working router for average everyday browsing or basic multimedia streaming the MP-RN368 handles the task with ease. In a house of four insatiable data-crunchers there was little issue while everyone was online streaming endless YouTube clips (not all cats) or watching high-definition Netflix movies. Things did start to get a bit laggy when downloading chunks of data or when someone logged in for an all-night online gaming session (Xbox Live and PSN both apply), and there were frequent disconnects for smaller wireless devices like a Nintendo 3DS or iPod Touch when things got hectic. I can’t say I was shocked, but the MP-RN368 generally held up and performed as expected.
Another issue worth bringing up is the included documentation, or lack thereof. Those unfamiliar with the inner-workings of routers - wireless or otherwise - might find themselves distraught as there’s not much in the way of helpful guidance you get lost during the initial setup process. This trait also extends to the external status lights which blend in with each other and can be difficult to read at a glance. Finally, the router’s setting interface is a bit simplistic and sorely lack helpful descriptions; not exactly ideal if you get decide to tweak advanced options without knowing what you're doing. I can imagine users having to hard reset this router because curiosity got the best of them.
Monoprice’s Wireless 802.11N Router with Internal Antenna and WPS Function - 2T2R MIMO (MP-RN368 for short) is an example of getting what you pay for; a fairly basic wireless router that is a prime example of getting everything you need and nothing you don't. Casual users who just need the convenience of going wireless won't be able to tell the difference of even care about bleeding-edge performance, though hardcore users - online gamers and downloading leeches specifically - will notice the lag when the MP-RN368 is under extreme bandwidth-heavy loads. It won’t be the first choice for marathon users, but it’s a decent router that should do fine for everyone else. Recommended.
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