Belkin Australia N1 MIMO Wireless Modem Router
- Easy to install, 802.11n worked well
- Lacks flexible content filtering features, doesn't have QoS
It proved to be a solid unit throughout our test period and we don't have any reservations recommending it if you're in the market for an ADSL2+ router with fast wireless networking capabilities.
Price$ 399.95 (AUD)
Belkin's N1 Wireless Modem Router is as user-friendly as modem/router combinations get. It's the perfect device for anyone who's never set up a modem and router before as it comes with plenty of visual aids and product stickers to guide you through the installation process.
It's not the best-featured all-in-one modem/router on the market, but it has enough features to satisfy most networking and high-speed ADSL pursuits. Perhaps the most important features of this modem/router are its support for ADSL2+ speeds, and its support for 802.11n networking (called draft-n, as the 802.11n standard is not yet ratified).
Those of you looking to implement a speedy and long-reaching wireless network in your home will appreciate the extra throughput that 802.11n brings over 802.11g-a theoretical speed up to 270Mbps (33MBps), compared to 54Mbps (6MBps). To test out the modem/router's wireless capabilities, we used Belkin's N1 Wireless Notebook Card, which is also capable of running at 802.11n speeds, and we transferred a 350MB file across the network.
Using the router in 802.11n mode, and with WPA2 encryption enabled, our test file was transferred at an average speed of 4.9MBps. This result is a speedy one and compares very well against other draft-n routers that we've seen, such as Netgear's RangeMax NEXT. Its 802.11g performance was also solid at 1.9MBps, but just a smidge lower than what we were expecting. These results were obtained at a distance of 1m away from the modem/router. From 10m away, and using a double-brick wall as an obstacle, 802.11n transfers were slightly slower at 4.5MBps, but 802.11g transfers were 600KBps faster-2.5MBps.
Video files played from a server across the wireless network didn't exhibit any performance issues; all files played smoothly at a distance of 10m away from the modem/router. The Belkin N1 modem/router was able to transfer our test file at a rate of 4.1MBps while we simultaneously streamed video, and the video was unaffected. A feature called Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) is present in the router, which allows for media files to be given precedence over the wireless network. We didn't notice any deterioration in our file transfers while streaming video files with WMM enabled either. Overall we found that all tasks works equally regardless of whether WMM was enabled or disabled.
As for range, the N1 was able to stream video comfortably to a notebook up to 20m away, through many obstacles, after-which, the signal broke up and became unwatchable. The notebook lost its signal to the N1 at 26m away.
Setting up the router is a very easy task. It comes with stickers that guide you through every step and every connection point. If you follow the instructions, you won't have any problems. One improvement over other modem/routers is the front-panel display of the unit, which has visual representations regarding the status of your network and your Internet connection. Rather than employing a set of singular LEDs with printed labels underneath, the N1 has illuminated pictures and labels to let you know exactly what is going on with your connection. A padlock lights up to let you know the firewall is enabled, a PC logo and a logo for the router (complete with arrows) let you know that the PC is connected to the modem/router, and the logo for the Internet lets you know when your ADSL connection has been established.
The Web interface of the modem/router is easy to navigate and provides a good explanation for each of its features in an in-built help file. However, we did find the interface was a little slow when changing settings, and many settings make the unit restart once they are applied.
The N1 doesn't have a lot of features to play with. You can't filter Internet traffic by using URLs or keywords, for example, and it also doesn't have a QoS feature. It does give you the option to restrict the Internet access of the computers on your LAN, and it does have an active firewall. It allows you to forward ports, which is required for peer-to-peer programs and online gaming. In our tests, we set up a static-IP network and forwarded ports without any problems.
We do like the amount of information that is given on the Web interface's status screen: ADSL connection speed, ADSL signal strength and line noise statistics. These can be handy when on the phone with your ISP if you get disconnected. We also like the unit's ability to automatically check for firmware updates online. All up, the N1 proved to be a solid unit throughout our test period and we don't have any reservations recommending it if you're in the market for an ADSL2+ router with fast wireless networking capabilities.
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