Pros / The product includes an integrated firewall and VPN passthrough.
Cons / The optional USB port is not the fastest version of USB.
Verdict / The D-Link DSL-2320B is the best DSL modem available in the retail channel.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from viewing as part of this site because it is no longer available. You can still read our original review below, but TopTenREVIEWS is no longer updating this product’s information.
The D-Link DSL-2320B from D-Link Corporation is one of the best DSL modems that individuals can purchase on the open market. As a corporation, D-Link is also praiseworthy because it embraces policies in support of global environmental stewardship. D-Link uses recyclable materials in the product packaging. The vendor is also an ENERGY STAR partner, a supporter of international standards to exclude hazardous materials from products, and a supporter of local programs that recycle and reclaim items such as products and packaging.
Anybody who is researching DSL modems to purchase has already performed the cost analysis and calculated a break-even point when the purchase will begin to save money in comparison to a lease (usually about one year). A buyer is necessarily willing to give up the sense of security that comes from leasing. The Internet Service Provider (ISP) neither guarantees the product that the customer bought from a different source, nor automatically upgrades the equipment. These are gambles that a modem purchaser must take. If a subscriber prefers one of the DSL modems with a built-in firewall and VPN capabilities but the ISP does not provide, lease or sell such a product, then there is an argument (in addition to the financial argument) for a subscriber to purchase a product from the retail channel.
The D-Link modem contains all of the standard features associated with DSL modems. It has an RJ-11 ADSL port, a Fast Ethernet port, multiple light-emitting diodes to illustrate link states and a reset button. In addition to the standard hardware and software features to be expected in the product category, it has a few features to make it stand out from the competition. The modem has security features such as a firewall and support for VPN (Virtual Private Network) passthrough. It also offers the option to connect the modem to the PC via USB.
The firewall supports Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) technology, which can detect and prevent malware and denial-of-service attacks. The firewall monitors the state of network connections flowing through it and rejects any traffic that it discerns to be illegitimate. Support for VPN clients to be able to connect to corporate servers via the public internet is a necessary security feature for corporate telecommuters. Virtual Private Networks allow corporations to provide remote access to employees and consultants via a corporate intranet by using secure tunnels through the public internet, which eliminates the need for costly leased lines. There are many different protocols and implementations of VPN. Each variation accomplishes the same goal, which is to encapsulate and encrypt data in such a way that it travels securely from one private network to another via a public network such as the internet. D-Link’s modem supports IPsec (Internet Protocol Security), PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) and L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) passthrough.
The modem includes a USB port in addition to the expected Ethernet port even though there is not much of an argument for preferring the USB port over the Ethernet port. Ethernet is designed for shared networking communications. To assign a USB port to a communications role is to make it unavailable for its intended purpose: to connect devices such as CD burners, cameras, mice and flash drives. If someone has a computer with no Ethernet port, it is conceivable that the person might not want to spend the money to buy an Ethernet card. By choosing the USB port, however, the user cannot share the internet connection or add a router or hardware firewall. Furthermore, a USB internet connection suffers from more dropped connections in comparison with Ethernet. Another argument against using a USB port for a DSL connection is that DSL cables reach less than 20 feet whereas Ethernet cables reach 300 feet. In order to use USB, a software driver is necessary, which works only on Windows. Even though the modem provides a USB connection, it is difficult to imagine reasons to choose USB instead of Ethernet.
Ease of Use
The product includes a simple configuration tool and a Web-based graphical user interface to modify settings. Light-emitting diodes reveal the modem’s link state at a glance. The modem supports TR-067 standards, which means that it conforms to the ADSL Interoperability Test Plan driven by the Broadband Forum. TR-067 ensures that DSL modems can interoperate with the Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexers (DSLAMs) located at service provider telephone exchanges. The modem is also TR-069 compliant, which means that it can automatically update and manage settings and firmware when an ISP makes them available. TR-069 compliance means that initial configuration and remote configuration of DSL modems can happen automatically.
Help and Support
D-Link’s one-year warranty includes a year of technical support. D-Link encourages customers to first search the online knowledge base, frequently asked questions and forum. Then, if the answer is not obvious, D-Link accepts customer service calls 24/7 (except major holidays). D-Link does not issue refunds under any circumstances. Refunds occur according to the refund/return policy of the vendor at the point of purchase.
The product includes security features to make it stand out from the competition. The vendor has the corporate consciousness to reduce the size of its carbon footprint. By way of contrast with the D-Link, the Motorola Netopia 2210 does not offer a USB port, but it includes a firewall and it supports VPN passthrough. Options are always good to have, even if an owner chooses to ignore them. However, it isn’t the absence of a USB port that places the Motorola Netopia modem in second position to our review of the D-Link product but the fact that the Netopia has a 90-day warranty where the D-Link has a one-year warranty. If you are going to give up the security of allowing your ISP to provide the customer premises equipment, then you might as well get the longest lifeline that a modem vendor is willing to extend to support your purchase. If you’ve already performed the cost/benefit analysis and decided to purchase rather than lease, the D-Link DSL-2320B is best because of security features and warranty.
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