KUDOS TO D-LINK Systems Inc. for upgrading all areas of its product line, culminating in the AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router (model DIR-890L/R[CF1] ). The Fountain Valley, Calif.-based company’s products used to be square, boring boxes, but the AC3200—red, trapezoidal, and cantilevered, with six legs, er, antennas—looks like Doc Brown brought it from the future in his DeLorean. D-Link’s software used to be just as bland but more confusing than its boxes, but the last few products we've seen have a fresh, modern UI that nicely balances ease of use with plenty of administrative control. Oh, yes, it's easy to configure and works well right out of the box.
Now aimed at the consumer market as well as small businesses and the channel, the router’s packaging says high-end product. The AC3200 is bigger than most and dark gray, and the photo and lettering on the top are spot-varnished to pop and catch your eye. Inside, heavy custom-cut foam snugly holds the AC3200 that ships with all antennas attached. This box certainly costs more than any other router wrapping we've seen.
The 12-page Quick Install Guide explains all the lights and ports, as expected. Instructions also suggest turning off your broadband modem for five minutes, connecting the AC3200 via Ethernet, and then turning on the broadband modem. Wait a minute or two longer and turn on the AC3200. This officially gives the broadband modem and the AC3200 time to introduce themselves and manage connections. Or, you can do as we did and simply plug in the AC3200 and turn it on. Yep, it all worked. Told you D-Link has come a long way down the ease-of-use road the last several years. Of course, if you have an issue, follow the instructions. The official method gives the broadband modem and the AC3200 time to properly connect. What doesn't get configured automatically can be done via the administration tools.
After connecting to the router via your browser using the installation address that appears when the router is on your network, you will see the official Welcome screen. You can also configure this via the default IP address of 192.168.0.1. There’s even a QR code in the Quick Install Guide if you want to start the process with your smartphone after downloading the D-Link app (we didn't).
The DIR-890L/R router silhouette is reminiscent of the attackers in the old Space Invaders video game. If a line of them come marching toward you, grab your quarters and save the world. Otherwise, just pick your language of choice from the list provided and get rolling.
A "Wi-Fi Network Name" (really the SSID or Service Set IDentifier) and the Wi-Fi password are preconfigured. D-Link provides two handy items to help with this. First, a small printed adhesive label shows the information, and if you keep the defaults, you can stick the label wherever you want. There's also a business-card-size "D-Link Wi-Fi Configuration Card" included, with the default info and spaces to write a new SSID and password, so tuck that card somewhere safe. You can change both items later, of course. Nice touch: The AC3200 tagged the location as being in the Central Time Zone and adjusted the time settings to match automatically.