This D-Link wireless router aims to not only provide your home Wi-Fi network, but to secure it against web-nasties and provide strong parental and privacy controls. You’ll need some patience to get it all working properly, so be prepared for a learning curve, but for particularly security-conscious parents the results could be worth it.
If a wireless router is running your home network, wouldn't it be nice if it took charge of all the privacy and security issues for all your devices at the same time? That's the idea behind the D-Link's collaboration with Intel and security experts McAfee in making the D-Link D-Fend AC2600 Wi-Fi Security Router Protected by McAfee. We borrowed one from D-Link to see how well it worked.
Parental controls for all
The parental controls can create a profile for each person in the home, set age-appropriate content, block websites and categories, impose internet curfews, send permission requests to parents for visiting select websites, and pause internet access for all or for just a specific user.
There's also an Away mode, which lets you pick which devices don't have internet access while you're out of the house. You can even command it via voice with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to do certain tasks, such as to block a device or user.
D-Fend your home network
Built into the router are specialised Intel chips to help lighten the security processing load, and it includes McAfee Secure Home Platform protection for five years to cover all devices (a $600 value-add). There's also two years of McAfee LiveSafe internet security software for computers, tablets and smartphones included (a $300 value-add).
The D-Link D-Fend AC2600 is a first-of-its-kind collaboration with noble aims, but how easy is it to set up and how well does it work? You have to install the D-Link router's phone app, and then install the McAfee app via a prompt through that app. All settings and configuration are changed through the app. We found it better to use the app to make configuration changes, rather than voice.
It takes a while to get your head around how it all works together, and we had some initial issues, but eventually got it all happening. However, we found it was not a consistent experience when you try to access content that should be blocked by the parental filters.
We tried various streaming services including YouTube, Netflix, Stan, Vimeo, ABC iView, SBS On Demand and websites with embedded videos, but received mixed results. Messaging wasn't consistent and there were various website certificate issues.
Results from other sites were also mixed. The router successfully blocked adult sites, betting sites (though sometimes we could get to the landing page) and dating sites. However, it didn't block 4chan (which has questionable content). A smart parent might check for this and other sites they know are questionable, and add the domains manually so that their kids can't access them. However, there is no auditing tool in D-Fend, so you can't see what has been blocked and accessed.
The D-Link D-Fend AC2600 uses Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and the best result it achieved in testing at close range (4 metres) for the 5GHz band was 31.9MBps (megabytes per second), while the 2.4GHz band recorded 11.5MBps. Both results are mid-range performance.
The good news is that when you get the D-Fend security working properly, it doesn't seem to affect performance noticeably. However, this isn't a router one would purchase for a large home or to cover a long distance (for that, try a mesh network) but it would be fine for a small house or an apartment.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.