Western Digital My Net N900 Central router review

In a surprising twist of events, Western Digital, the maker of generally good quality though perhaps slightly overpriced hard drives, is branching out its product line – to routers.

Western Digital is trying to do something slightly differently from other manufacturers. The question is, can they pull it off or are they going to fail in the attempt?

What’s in the box

In the box, you’ll find all the obvious bits. A power cable, ethernet cable (to connect to your modem), and (obviously) the router unit itself. There’s also a convenient setup & resource CD, though it’s specifically marked for Windows. Setup on other Operating Systems can be done via the browser – the default IP address, username, and password are all on the inside of the CD case.

The My Net N900 Central has all the ports you’d expect – 4 gigabit ethernet ports for connecting clients, another ethernet port to connect to your modem, a power port, and a USB port to connect a drive to share over the network.

However, none of this accounts for its rather large size and uncharacteristic weight. What does account for it is the internal hard drive – the My Net N900 is a router-NAS combination. We had a 1TB drive in our review unit and there’s a 2TB model as well.

Western Digital My Net N900 Central router package
Western Digital My Net N900 Central router package

Setup

Typing in the default IP address for the router in a browser window will present you with a wizard screen to help you connect the N900 Central to your modem. About three clicks later, you should be set up. Next up is Wireless setup, where you can choose to enable or disable 2.4 and/or 5GHz WiFi, and set their SSIDs and security modes.

For the less adventurous, there is a CD included which goes through a Desktop window version of the same setup.

It’s worth noting that no setup procedure lets you change the default router password. Seeing as it’s the super-secure “password”, it’s definitely a good idea to go to Advanced Settings -> Admin and change it to something else.

Setting up the internal or USB storage on the N900 Central is as easy as clicking on Storage -> Set up storage and following the wizard. The wizard will let you set up access protocols (Normal share, DLNA, iTunes, and FTP) with the simple tick of a checkbox. You can also select to restrict access to a particular user.

Getting the storage set up for remote access required a longer and more complex (though not overly so) process. However once that was set up, it worked wonderfully.

Western Digital My Net N900 Central router
Western Digital My Net N900 Central router

Browser UI

The browser UI is, as it should be, a simple affair. There’s a top row of large icons with descriptive names for their purpose.

Setting up your Internet connection, wireless, storage options, a new device, or remote access, as well as viewing the current status of your network and router (the default view), are all one click away. Most of these options are all completed on the same screen or are done through dead simple wizards.

The last option in the list is “Advanced Settings” which grants access to advanced security and network features.

We didn’t run into any major problems navigating the UI. Things are laid out for quick and easy access with minimal effort.

In use

While wired in to the N900 Central, copy speeds were generally between 300 and 400Mbps. On wireless, speeds dropped to a much lower 40 to 50Mbps. This was tested between different computers as well as copying to and from the router’s internal storage, and speeds were fairly consistent regardless.

The WiFi range was good, though we’ve seen higher coverage from other routers. Suffice it to say that the N900 Central should cover your large house without spilling over into too much of your neighbour’s space.

Western Digital My Net N900 Central router back
Western Digital My Net N900 Central router back

Conclusion

The My Net N900 Central is a very interesting product. The integrated NAS and multimedia functions were executed very well with easy setup and reliable use thereafter.

It almost goes without saying that it works very well as a router as well, though it’s not vying for the top position just yet.

At first blush, the R1,999 price point seems a little steep. But when you consider the router/NAS combination along with the slick interface it makes it seem a little better, though we’d be a lot more interested if it were priced more competitively.

Overall, the My Net N900 Central is a great first attempt from Western Digital. Buyers looking for some NAS to go with their router won’t be disappointed, provided they’re willing to compromise a little on price.

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Western Digital My Net N900 Central router review