Thursday, September 6, 2007

Hardware review: Belkin Wireless G Cable/DSL Router

Belkin's Wireless G Cable/DSL Router is a no frills easy to use router that is compatible with Virgin Media, NTL Broadband and Telewest broadband cable connection as well as DSL connections. It comes equipped with four 10/100 Base-T Ethernet ports with support for up to 253 wired LAN users and 32 wireless LAN users. It is reasonably priced for a wireless router and is about 10 quid cheaper than my first choice Linksys Wireless-G router, which wasn't in stock.

After a quick setup via the included CD where it detected the broadband settings and then connecting the Virgin Media (NTL) cable modem to the router and allowing it to reboot, the thing was up and running all within 10 minutes. Unfortunately on my ThinkPad (which was also the installation PC for the router) did not manage to connect wirelessly, but after a quick check and enabling automatic IP, it worked fine.

Configuring the security is easy, probably will take about five extra minutes. Just navigate to the router's IP via Firefox or your browser of choice and click away. Enabling security is important. One of my former neighbour had this exact router and never enabled any sort of security, be it on the wireless connection itself or even the router (it was great filtering out MAC addresses). The router has support for two WPA2 keys where the first pre-shared passphrase allows full network access and a second 'guest' key allows only internet access via the router. Perfect for friends dropping by.

The wireless connection is excellent and I can't stress that enough. ThinkPad, Nokia N80, XDA Exec, Nintendo Wii, an Acer lappy with Atheros wireless card - all were connected within seconds. I have yet to test my PS2's wired network capability with the router though but my gut feeling is it would be fine.

Signal strengths are reasonable considering that this Belkin is an entry level model worth £35. The router is sitting next to the telly in the living room and signals up to 50% were obtainable from the pub across the road making pub quiz cheating easier. Signal in the bedroom is roughly 90% even with the doors closed. It is obvious that in a typical small apartment an entry level router like this would work just fine. Anything higher (like Belkin's own MIMO range) is overkill unless you are planning to share internet connection in a four story Victorian flat.

A caveat with this product is it does not include a modem (which is understandable considering the price) as well as a USB port. Most ADSL modems today comes in USB flavour but the Wireless G router only comes with Ethernet ports. It is very old school but if you are lucky enough to have a Ethernet broadband modem then this shouldn't be a problem.

This product comes highly recommended. It is easy to use and gets the job done.

1 comment:

kew said...

I Had one and it worked for only 6 months before it starts to keep dropping the lines... I wouldn't buy another belkin again, since there are so many brands to choose from these days...