The EnGenius ESR-9710 is a Draft-N 2.0 Wi-Fi, mimo-based residential gateway, with a trio of antennae at the rear.
EnGenius is a name that rings few bells in the UK, and the brand enters a network hardware market that’s already full to the gunnels.
EnGenius' Draft-N 2.0 Wi-Fi router is a more familiar device, offering the usual features you come to expect by now – it's a mimo-based residential gateway, with a trio of stubby antennae at the rear. (For the uninitiated, 'mimo' means maximum input, maximum output.)
With the EnGenius ESR-9710 you also get four wired ethernet ports plus firewall and support for WMM/Wi-Fi multimedia prioritisation (i.e. QoS) and WPS/Wi-Fi Protected Setup, designed to simplify the implementation of strong wireless encryption.
It also offers good support for streaming technologies, including WISH or Wireless Intelligent Stream Handling. So the EnGenius ESR-9710 ticks many boxes on the 'state of the art' front.
The EnGenius ESR-9710 is a second-generation Draft-N router in more ways than one – rather than have 100 megabits per second (Mbps) Fast Ethernet ports it has Gigabit Ethernet instead, a definite plus-point.
What’s the point of having a 300Mbps wireless connection if the wired side runs at but one third of this?
That said, we all know that Draft-N routers thus far deliver such disappointing throughputs that they don't currently overstretch Fast Ethernet networking. As it is, you’d be doing well to get more than 55Mbps real-world data transfer speeds from the EnGenius ESR-9710.
Setting up the EnGenius ESR-9710 is straightforward enough, thanks to a number of setup wizards. This is further helped by that modern rarity, full online help.
Although the EnGenius ESR-9710 is by no means a cheap device there were obvious signs of corners being cut, however. The manuals repeatedly refer to encryption keys '2 to 20 characters' in length, even though most people would know that these keys have to be a minimum of five characters long, depending on whether you use WEP or WPA etc.
The EnGenius ESR-9710 was using firmware that could have been updated three months ago and the companion USB Draft-N network adaptor used drivers that were simply awful – once again, a far superior update (i.e. one that worked) was available for download.
The EnGenius ESR-9710 offers par for the course performance and features. However better known brands, eg Linksys, Netgear or D-Link, offer similar spec devices for around £70 to £80. This plus a few rough edges makes the EnGenius less than stellar VFM.