Our ASUS RT-AC66U router played out last Friday evening around 10:30. Dede was using her iPad to surf while we were watching TV and the signal went dead. When I checked the router, it had no power so I disconnected it, moved the wall wart to another outlet, and still nada. Rinse, repeat. No go. Just dead. It might’ve made sense for the router to have given up the ghost a coupla nights before when we had a fierce lightning storm and multiple power losses. But no, it gave out on a quiet Friday night.
Some of you will remember that I had sung high praises of the ASUS when I bought it nearly 3 years ago because it was fast, had better Wi-Fi range (altho we still ended up adding an Amped High Power Wi-Fi Range Extender about a year ago which dramatically increased the Wi-Fi range), and perhaps most cool, the ASUS router also functioned as a DLNA media server that allowed us to stream photos, music, and video files stored on a USB hard drive plugged into the router to devices throughout the house—like our Sony Blu-ray player connected to the main TV. With this, we were able to cobble together something akin to our own home version of Netflix, albeit without the snazzy menus.
All was well until a firmware update from ASUS broke things about 8 months ago. The Seagate USB hard drive would no longer mount and so couldn’t be accessed by the router’s media server function. I could still use the drive as a quasi-NAS to store files without fail, but could no longer stream content from it. I tried 2 other USB hard drives with the same net effect. From the comments I found on various forums, this was a common affliction that many ASUS router owners had recently begun suffering from.
So, with the ASUS down, I wasted no time heading back to my old standby, The Wirecutter to find out what I should replace the dead router with. And following a hasty trip to Best Buy early Saturday morning, I returned home with a shiny new Netgear R6400. Not only was it quick to setup, with most of the configuration being wizard-driven and easy to understand, but the attached USB drive was easy to share as a network storage device—and we have a DLNA media server once again!