Review: D-Link DSL-2640B

I’ve had DSL for right around 10 years. I would have ordered it sooner, except it wasn’t available in my area any earlier than that.

Over the years I’ve owned several modems. I started out with an Alcatel, then after I moved a mile down the street I owned a couple of different Speedstream modems. Each would drop connections every so often, and each had a different (and undocumented, of course) ritual to get it back online.

The highest praise I can give to the D-Link DSL-2640B is that I haven’t discovered such a ritual yet. If the phone line and electricity are working, it finds a way to stay online.

There’s nothing especially flashy about the 2640B. It’s an unassuming black and silver box, similar in styling to modern PCs, with jacks in the back. It’s a combination modem, gateway, and switch in one package, so in my case, it replaced two boxes–my Speedstream modem, and my Linksys WRT54G. Many ISPs have been distributing all-in-one units made by companies like 2wire in recent years; the D-Link is similar to those, but a bit smaller than many of them.

Setup is trivial for someone who’s set up devices like my old Linksys. Those who’ve never done such a thing may need assistance. I can’t vouch for the quality of D-Link’s customer service because I didn’t need it. Before I plugged the unit into my phone line, I plugged a laptop into the D-Link, brought the two units over to my desktop PC where I brought up my Linksys configuration, and I checked all my settings against the Linksys. About 10 minutes later, I plugged the D-Link into my phone line, it connected to my ISP, and it’s been online ever since.

The nicest feature is its ADSL information screen. It tells me the modem speed (downstream and upstream), number of errors, and other diagnostic information. I’ve seen my speed range from 1.5 megabit to as low as 256K (upstream stays steady at 384K), but it’s never dropped. I’ll take speed fluctuations over dropped connections any day. If the quality of my phone line deteriorates any further (or maybe I should say, “when”)–I’ll be armed with some good information. Southwestern Bell/SBC/AT&T have always been able to dismiss my complaints in the past. I imagine that’ll be harder to do when I can tell them exactly how many tens of millions of downstream errors I have, versus 96 upstream errors.

Despite those connections, the modem keeps on trucking. I’m impressed.

My sole complaint is that the DynDNS client doesn’t pass my domain name to my internal network. I had to put an entry for my DynDNS name into my hosts file. This won’t be an issue for anyone who isn’t running their own web server, but it’s a little aggravating for those who do. Less aggravating than a dropped connection though.

So if you need a new DSL modem for whatever reason, I recommend the D-Link DSL-2640B. It isn’t flashy, but it works and keeps working.

Update 10 October 2010: I’ve been using this unit for about 15 months, and it’s still going strong. So I can recommend it even more strongly than when I wrote this. It’s out of warranty now, and I didn’t even notice.

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