Wi-Fi 6 routers from renowned brands are priced above Rs. 5,000 price band, so naturally, I was intrigued when D-Link announced its R15 router for a price under Rs. 4,000. It not only supports the latest Wi-Fi standard but also packs in some interesting features that are unheard of in the sub-Rs. 4,000 price band.
The compact design of the R15 is derived from D-Link’s other AX1500 model – the DIR-X1560. The meshed body for ample heat dissipation; four LED lights denoting power, internet, 2.4GHz and 5GHz connectivity; and the four non-removable antenna positions are like on the X1560. The area where R15 differentiates is the dual-tone glossy white and blue colour combo and disappointingly, the lack of an extra ethernet port at the back (and the power button). The router also features an internal antenna for AI functionality. There are four gigabit ports (including WAN), a WPS button, reset and a power port at the back.
The setup process remains easy as ever. One can scan a barcode at the bottom of the router or can manually select the model number and follow the on-screen instructions. The only gripe I have is with the number of separate apps D-Link releases for its router range. This again is a non-issue for most but would appreciate it if D-Link merges different apps into one for various D-Link routers and products. R15 can also be configured via the web interface.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Setting up different parameters to get the most out of your network can be overwhelming, which is where R15’s AI comes into play. But what does AI do exactly? For starters, it optimizes the wireless network by scanning and switching to the Wi-Fi channel with the least interference. This ensures fast and stable speeds. The AI Traffic Optimizer prioritises traffic and ensures sustained performance for all connected devices, whereas the AI Parental Control automatically schedules internet access for pre-selected devices. The AI Mesh Optimizer works to maintain a seamless and reliable Wi-Fi connection across nodes and finally, there’s the AI Assistant that pushes out notifications for the weekly data consumed, which device consumed the most and Wi-Fi optimization information.
If we consider third-party AIs, the R15 also supports voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. All one needs is to link to their preferred voice assistance service and say out commands like enabling/disabling guest Wi-Fi, upgrading the router firmware, rebooting and more. I tried it with Google Assistant and the voice commands works as promised, except for the one where it didn’t share the guest Wi-Fi password.
App & Web Interface
The Eagle Pro AI app has a clean and easy-to-operate user interface. It even sends a notification if the router goes offline or comes back online. It lists all the configurable features on the main screen and tapping on individual features gives more granular options. For instance, the self-explanatory internet speed menu lets users check the download and upload speeds while the Health Mode allows turning the internet on or off or blocking internet access at night.
Advanced mode is the web interface that offers more feature options like VPN, tile-based QoS service, firewall, port forwarding and more.
The R15 is a dual-band router that can reach speeds of up to 300Mbps on 2.4GHz and up to 1200Mbps on 5GHz. The wireless range depends on a myriad of factors and while the R15’s wireless coverage is decent and comparable to the mid-range Asus router I use, it is lesser than D-Link’s claimed range of 230 sqm or about 2475 sq. ft. The good thing about the R15 is that supports mesh technology and if you have got another D-Link router that supports mesh, the R15 can be used to extend the network.
The R15 can also be used as an extender with another non-D-Link router and the process to switch from router to extender or bridge mode is simple and doesn’t require a reset. The router supports Smart Connect, which creates a single SSID for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, but if you prefer, the R15 also allows to create separate SSIDs. The router supports the latest WPA3 standard for improved wireless security.
I wouldn’t say D-Link R15 is a flawless router. It certainly has a scope for improvement. But for a router priced at Rs. 2,999, it doesn’t get better than this. The R15 offers a lot in the form of Wi-Fi 6, WPA3 support, easy parental control, smart features, and a decent app experience.