When is a wireless router not just a wireless router? Belkin's answer: When it's a total pain. That's why it introduced four new 802.11n Wi-Fi routers, ranging from $50 to $130, that come with a set of applications designed to help you use your wireless network for backing up, playing music and movies, setting up file transfers, and speeding up important Internet traffic without having to muck around in arcane menus
The new routers, called Surf ($50), Share ($80), Play ($100), and Play Max ($130) all include support for VPN passthrough, Wi-Fi Protected Setup, and pre-configured wireless security. Share and Play each have a USB port for hard drives or printers, while Play Max has two, and Play and Play Max both support 802.11n Dual Band (using both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency spectrum for faster transfers and more bandwidth). Finally, only the high-end Play Max includes Gigabit Ethernet ports and UPnP server functionality.
Likewise, the new apps are distributed across the model line. Surf only includes the Self Healing app, which will automatically resolve certain network problems and run maintenance scans to help make your network more reliable. Moving up to the Share will get you Memory Safe (a network backup app) and Print Genie (a wireless printing app).
Play adds a set of music-related apps--Music Mover lets you play music from an external hard drive to your Xbox 360 or PS3, Music Labeler will identify and label your music, and Daily DJ will generate playlists based on three selectable "moods" (High Energy, Steady Groove, and Kick Back).
Shelling out for the Play Max, however, gets you Torrent Genie, which lets you download large files without leaving your computer on, and Bit Boost, an app that lets you prioritize your gaming/video/VoIP traffic as appropriate.
For more information on the Surf, Share, Play, and Play Max, check out Belkin's Web site--and stay tuned for further coverage. Also, check out our reviews of their home powerline networking and wireless networking equipment.