D-Link offers access to files stored on a USB storage device plugged into the USB port on the DIR-505. You can configure SharePort for web access via http: (default port=8181) or https: (default port=4343). When you connect with a browser, you have your choice of either Category view or Folder view.
In Category view, the DIR-505 collects files into the following categories: Music; Photo; Movie; and Document. The Folder view (Figure 8) gives you a more traditional tree view of the device. You have the option of creating a new folder, uploading or deleting, but apparently no direct download button. Clicking on a file allows you to play a media file in your web browser if the file type is supported.
Figure 8: SharePort Web Access showing several movies in the folder view
D-Link offers a free SharePoint application for both the Android and the iOS operating systems. I don’t have an iOS device, but I did download the Android app. Like the Web Access interface, the Android app has both category and folder views, but functionality is similarly limited to playback and upload. While SharePort seems OK for streaming, I feel that the UI needs to be improved before I would consider it a viable option for file uploads/downloads from a portable device.
Tim didn’t performance test the DIR-505. As a portable device, you don’t really need the range to cover an entire house. For its intended purposes, you’ll probably only need coverage for a hotel room (or two if you have a suite) or a conference room. While I recognize that my Droid Razr is not a calibrated piece of test equipment, I did measure signal strength with two different Wi-Fi analyzer programs.
Though the signal strengths varied, in general, the signal strength on the DIR-505 was lower than on a NETGEAR WNDR3800 that I also measured. Figure 9 shows about a 9 dBm difference between my WNDR3800 (Penguin) and the DIR-505 (DlinkHotSpot) measured by Amped Wireless’ Wi-Fi Analytics program.
Figure 9: Signal strength comparing a NETGEAR WNDR3800 and the DIR-505
Similarly, the Android Wi-Fi Analyzer app (Figure 10) showed somewhat more than 10 dBm difference between the WNDR3800 and the DIR-505. The devices were within a few feet of each other, and were on separate non-overlapping channels.
Figure 10: Wifi Analyzer screenshot comparing DIR-505 & NETGEAR WNDR3800
The DIR-505 has just started to ship, so online merchants haven’t really started to discount the retail price of $69.99. At $70, it faces very stiff competition from the TP-LINK TL-WR700N, which is widely available for $30 or less. Both share a similar “wall wart” form factor and similar operating modes. The D-Link device has a three position switch for changing operating modes, though you can’t change between router and AP modes with the switch – you have to log into the device to change between those modes. In contrast, the TP-LINK requires that you log into the device to change between any of its five modes. And, though you’re not likely to use it, the TP-LINK product has an Ethernet bridge mode.
For me, SharePort both on the Android and via Web Access was a disappointment, and not a feature that would sway me to spend more money to get. Judging from the feature list, the TP-Link appears to have more user-configurable security features that the DIR-505 including VPN Passthrough, disabling ping response on WAN port, DoS (denial of service) protection and filtering for UDP flood filtering and TCP-SYN flood attacks, each with a settable threshold. While those features may be baked into the DIR-505, they certainly aren’t user configurable.
On the plus side, the DIR-505 supports WPS (Wi-Fi protected setup) and has a WPS push button on the case. From my experience, both with my Android phone and a Windows 7 wireless client, the push button WPS makes connecting to the DIR-505 extremely simple. I tested it in AP, Router and Wi-Fi Hot spot modes and it worked flawlessly. Conversely, the TP-LINK TL-WR700N lacks a WPS push button and is not Wi-Fi Certified. And, since we get occasional visitors, I really appreciate the Guest network feature.
Even though the DIR-505 currently commands a premium price, I’d still probably opt to purchase it – primarily because it does have WPS and is Wi-Fi Certified. However, I’m certain that a lot of consumers will buy a less expensive, non-certified product and gamble that it will work with their equipment. But I also suspect that D-Link will face a lot of pricing pressure from the TP-LINK TL-WR700N and other devices that perform similar duties and cost much less.