While all routers let you customise your networks, the Synology RT2600ac takes it to a new level. You can control this router through your smartphone, which means you can instantly cut off your teen’s internet access if they don’t wash the dishes.
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It comes with a step-by-step guide that walks you through logging in and setting up the DS Router app. Initially I had trouble setting up my own administrator account, while I could create an account, it wouldn’t login. But I kept trying and third time was the charm. The app lets you control network setup, set and customise parental controls, and monitor speeds and devices on the network in real-time. The best thing is you can find out who’s hogging the bandwidth late at night without getting out of your cosy warm bed.
The RT2600ac has a USB port so it can also become your home hub for storing, streaming and sharing files. I was able to connect it to my USB drive and play music through any device on the network, like pseudo-cloud storage. You can also download add-ons, such as VPN Plus Server that lets you access your home network from anywhere through the internet.
I found the RT2600ac fast and reliable. I always had good reception inside my home with my devices always registering at least 2 bars of WiFi strength. I moved houses while using the router, so I was able to see how it performed in a house built in the 60s (with thick doors and framing) compared to a newer home, constructed from lighter materials. It performed well in both houses. The router also has a handy smart connect feature. When I went about 10m down the back of the garden, and out of the shorter-distance 5GHz network’s range, smart connect seamlessly switched me to the longer-range 2.4GHz network. To help you get the best reception, the RT2600ac uses beamforming, which is where the router detects where your connected device is in relation to it, then narrows the WiFi beams towards this direction.
The only downside of the RT2600ac is its style — it doesn’t have much. It’s big, has 4 external antennas, and is on a permanent lean due to its rear feet sticking out.
The Synology RT2600ac is a feature-packed router that allows complete customisation and management of your home network. While it may look intimidating, it’s easy to set up and offers plenty of tools for managing your home WiFi. Though you might want to hide it behind a pot plant.
CPU: Dual-core 1.7GHz
Memory: 512MB DDR3
Antenna: 4 x External (2.4GHz/5GHz)
LAN ports: Gigabit (RJ-45)x4, Gigabit (RJ-45)x3 (Dual WAN)
WAN ports: Gigabit (RJ-45), Gigabit (RJ-45)x2 (Dual WAN)
Other ports: USB 3.0, USB 2.0, SD card reader
Dimensions (HxWxD): 77x280x169mm (without antenna)
First Looks are trials of new or interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons. Our writer received an RT2600ac router on loan for this First Look.
By Erin Bennett