We recently had the opportunity to review the TotoLink A2004NS wireless gigabit router. This 802.11AC wireless home router is new to the U.S. but has been extremely popular in Korea, shipping over 300,000 units a month in that country. That's a pretty impressive number for a home/SOHO router.
The A2004NS is 1200Mbps (that's 1.2Gbps) dual band Gigabit router targeting the home and small office market. With the growing network demands of smaller home networks, this router fits nicely into an increasingly needy niche that demands commercial flexibility at an extremely low consumer price point.
At first glance, the A2004NS includes all of the basic wireless home router features that all of the "other" routers currently have, like a 4 port gigabit ethernet switch, DHCP server, DNS proxy, connectivity for PPPoE for ADSL users, static IP configuration, basic outbound nat for access to the Internet, and simple wireless setup and authentication.
But where things really get impressive is with the A2004NS's full list of advanced features NOT found in popular home router brands, such as Linksys, DLink and Netgear. These advanced features are QoS, point to point VPN, Dynamic DNS, advanced access controls, both inbound and outbound with url filtering (up to 200 rules in each direction), mac authentication, Multiple SSID's (up to 3 with independent access controls), Wireless Ethernet Bridge(multi-bridge), usb connectivity for NAS/Media servers (that actually works!), systems utilities and traffic graphing, advanced nat/routing features, as well as an impressive set of built-in firewall rules to block attacks like syn-floods, surf attacks, and others.
To get many of these features, most tech-savvy users would look to replace their home router's firmware, if supported, with opensource router operating systems like DD-WRT or OpenWRT. This not only voids any warranties you might have but would also require, what many people consider, open heart surgery on your brand new router. This is not for the faint of heart!
But fear not, with the TotoLink A2004NS you won't have to perform anything quite so scary. These handy features are available right out of the box and you'll still be able to keep your warranty.
Putting things to the test
Many manufacturers will tout a whole laundry list of features that their device can do, just to have a slight edge on the competition. The problem is that often the advertised features don't work, are buggy, or are severely limited.
We've been extremely impressed with the TotoLink router. We were able to configure every single feature, and all of them, yes all of them, worked like a charm! Even having a USB attached media drive allowed us to connect an external hard drive full of movies and music, and stream them any where on the network. This has been the holy grail for many home networks and home theater hobbyists.
We were also able to easily setup a guest network on a separate SSID that segmented my private home network from the guest network, adding some additional security to my home network. Probably overkill, but it was fun to do!
Since we do all have days jobs and work in Tech, there are times where we need access to our home network (yeah we're geeky like that). The A2004Ns offers the flexibility to configure access by source ip address so that we can FTP (file transfer protocol), or RDP (remote desktop protocol), from out work network across town into the home network when needed. Normally we would have to use a Linksys router or some other supported device with DD-WRT loaded to accomplish something advanced like this.
What is truly exciting about all of this flexibility and cool techie features, is that up until now these advanced features were only found in high end commercial business routers, like Cisco or Juniper, costing orders of magnitude more money than the TotoLink.
Advertised Specs and Features
It can't be all good, can it?
With all of these great features, it would seem there isn't anything to complain about or question.
However, performance and testing aside (truly what matters), while putting this review together we discovered that the web interface and setup of the TotoLink A2004NS looks amazingly, albeit identical, to a competing product from Eminent, the EM4551 wLINK 300 Pro.
Up until now, we have never heard of Eminent, only that there are screen shots that look identical to the TotoLink A2004NS. This says to us that TotoLink is doing something right, if people are copying what they are doing.
One feature that we didn't see as being possible would be time based access controls. It would be nice to be able to lock a reception area or lobby down during off hours, or shut the kids down at certain times of the day to ensure they are not waking up in the middle of the night to check facebook or play games. You can, however, set a ton of URL filters to block inappropriate content, which gives parents a lot of peace of mind.
Summary of the TotoLink A2004NS
We have replaced our DLINK home office router with the TotoLink A2004NS and have been running it for the past several weeks without any issues what-so-ever. It is far more stable the the DLINK which seemed to always stop natting packets out to the internet, and needed to be rebooted every week or so.
The TotoLink A2004NS performed well beyond our expectations, providing bonded 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz wireless networking, and more than doubled my wireless network bandwidth. This is a perfect solution for providing high bandwidth network access on multiple floors in a building or house where pulling cable is in impossible.
Coupling this with the features of a high end wireless router for a price point that is affordable to anyone makes this router an INCREDIBLE BUY!