So you can enjoy the sunshine while listening to your favourite music or podcast. Thanks to Sennheiser. Enter today.
Belkin Double N+ Wireless Router (F6D6230au4)
Belkin's Double N+ wireless router supports dual-band operation, plus more nifty features
- Dual-band operation, built-in BitTorrent client, UPnP media server, WPS set up, content filtering
- Interface was sometimes slow and unresponsive for us, manual wireless set up a little tedious
Belkin's Double N+ Wireless Router (F6D6230au4) is a nice choice for those of you considering making the switch to 5GHz, as it also supports simultaneous 2.4GHz operation. Not only that, but it packs in a BitTorrent client and USB storage port, and can even be used as a UPnP server to stream videos and music to a gaming console. It was reliable in our test period, except for occasions when the Web interface was a little slow and unresponsive.
Price$ 279.00 (AUD)
Belkin's Double N+ Wireless Router (F6D6230au4) is more than a device for sharing a broadband Internet connection across a network of computers. It's a wireless router that's capable of running 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n wireless networks simultaneously, it can handle BitTorrent files and it can even stream media off an attached USB hard drive. It's easy to set up and use, but its interface is slow and unresponsive at times and its physical design could be better, too.
It has two external antennas, a front panel that can almost light up a room (luckily you can dim the lights), and it has a built-in stand that prevents you from put it down flat or wall-mounting it — we’d prefer a removable stand. The rear has a WAN port, four Ethernet ports, and there is a USB port that can accommodate an external hard drive or USB key.
Belkin Double N+ setup
Setting up the Belkin Double N+ Wireless Router (F6D6230au4) is a relatively painless task: all you have to do is plug in your modem (if you’re using a modem with its own built-in router, then be sure to switch off the router function or set the modem to bridged mode) and feed the router your ISP login details. There is no connect/disconnect button, which is annoying, but as long as the login details are correct and there is nothing wrong with your line, the router will always automatically connect within a few seconds.
Setting up the wireless networks is a little tedious, as you have to click on four separate pages in order to set up both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz SSIDs and their respective security details. WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) is supported via a physical button on the front of the panel and it works for both frequencies. This can make wireless set up a more straightforward task if your network adapters support WPS, either via a physical button or PIN.
Faster wireless networking using 5GHz
Dual-band routers (such as Netgear’s WNDR3700 and Linksys’ WRT610N) haven’t taken the world by storm yet, primarily because you need to spend more money upgrading your network. However, there is a need for them, especially if you live in an area that already has plenty 2.4GHz traffic flying around; it can give your devices a clearer path and therefore provide better speed. The dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz operation is useful if you want a dedicated radio band for certain computers and media devices on your network, although you will need computers and devices that have a 5GHz radio as well. For example, you could stream a video to your PS3 using the 2.4GHz network, while using the 5GHz network to conduct other file transfers between your computers.
Each network will be separate and unaffected by the other’s traffic; whether you are using the 2.4GHz radio to stream data or not, the data rate on the 5GHz network will not be affected. This was shown during our tests, in which we were able to transfer files across the 5GHz network at a rate of 7.47 megabytes per second (MBps) whether or not the 2.4GHz network was being used. The same file transfer on the 2.4GHz network averaged 5.96MBps, so you are better off using the 5GHz network for streaming and gaming where possible; it will likely be exposed to less interference and therefore run quicker. It will also give you faster throughput across longer distances: from 15m away, the 2.4GHz network averaged 3.37MBps whereas the 5GHz network averaged 5.61MBps.
You can get a Belkin USB adapter such as the Double N+ USB adapter (F6D6050AU) to plug in to your notebook or PC if your computer doesn’t already support both bands. If you have an Xbox 360, then you can use Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Wireless N Networking Adapter to take advantage of the router’s 5GHz capability. If you own a PlayStation 3, you can connect it via Ethernet to a 5GHz-enabled gaming adapter such as the Linksys WGA600N (though it’s not available in Australia at the moment).
Store torrents on the Double N+ router
The router’s Web interface has a built-in BitTorrent client that can be used to download torrents directly to an attached external hard drive or USB key. To use it, you have to save torrent files to your computer and then open them in the router’s client. The client doesn’t have extensive settings; you can’t set specific times for downloads to start and stop and it doesn’t have the connection options of a typical BitTorrent client. However, you also don’t have to open any ports in order to get the client to work optimally. This client is useful if you want to do some excessive downloading but don’t want to leave your notebook or PC on all night.
There is what looks like a stop button next to the pause button in the torrents interface; when you press this button, and then restart the torrent, the actual download again starts from the beginning. Use the pause button to stop torrents instead, as these will resume from where they left off. Overall, the interface could stand to be a little more intuitive.
Media streaming from the Double N+ Wireless Router
A UPnP media server is built in to the router, which allows you to stream music and videos to other devices on your network. We had no problems at all streaming Xvid-encoded videos to a PlayStation 3, and the media server also showed up in Windows Media Player on all of our attached computers. However, videos weren’t streamed to computers but were buffered in full instead, which was frustrating. That said, if your plan is to stream to a PS3, you’ll be more than happy with the results. There aren’t any settings to play with for the media server; you can enable or disable it and that’s it.
Security and QoS
Dual-band operation, an integrated BitTorrent client and a UPnP media server are the stand-out features of the Belkin Double N+ Wireless Router, but it also has the other features that are expected in a consumer router: you get a built-in SPI firewall that’s enabled by default, you have the ability to forward ports and set up virtual servers and you can filter traffic according to MAC address. You can even set up rules for computers based either on their MAC address or IP address, and set up URL and keyword filters, as well as times that the Internet can be accessed. This can help parents control what their kids access while browsing the Net unsupervised.
You also get built-in quality of service, which gives voice data highest priority and online gaming data the next highest priority by default. You can change this profile if you wish.
The Belkin Double N+ Wireless Router (F6D6230au4) is worth considering if you’re after a router that can transmit over 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks and it was reliable during our test period. However, we did find its interface to be slow and unresponsive at times, and we wish most of the wireless networking settings were located on the same page rather than spanned across several. The built-in torrent client could also use some sprucing up, but it performs its intended job without any fuss. It’s very well suited as a wireless router for a family that wants to distribute a cable or ADSL connection across their home, and which will also allow some control over content via URL and keyword filtering.
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