BT Home Hub 3 review
802.11n, 4x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet ports
The Home Hub 3 is a stylish, compact router that comes free with all BT broadband services but it's also available to buy. It has two WAN ports - one is an RJ11 port for the built-in ADSL modem, while the other is a special RJ45 port that supports the VDSL2 protocol used by BT's Infinity fibre-optic broadband service. This means you can sign up for a normal ADSL service and upgrade later.
The front panel has just three indicator lights, showing the status of power, broadband and wireless. A small pull-out tab at the back of the unit has a randomly generated WPS PIN and password for the admin interface. It's convenient, as you won't lose the settings and can carry the tab with your around your various devices to set them up.
The web-based interface is incredibly sparse. The first page shows the status of connections and lists connected clients, while the second links to BT's services such as BT FON, NetProtect Plus security and Family Protection parental control software. A Settings page comes third, and by default it's set to Basic mode - clicking Advanced Settings reveals more information and options.
There's no support for 128-bit WEP, so if you have older equipment that can't use the more secure WPA or WPA2 encryption, you'll be even less secure using 64-bit WEP. There's also no MAC address filtering for limiting access to only pre-defined devices, no support for WDS (Wireless Distribution System) for extending the wireless network, and no QoS for prioritising important traffic.
The Home Hub's most interesting feature is Smart Wireless channel-hopping. Unlike most automatic channel selection techniques, BT's constantly checks for interference - not just from other access points but also from Bluetooth devices and microwaves - and changes channel on the fly. However, we didn't notice this take effect in our performance tests, and the results didn't show any marked improvement over other routers, despite our noisy testing environment. Results in our speed tests were mixed, barely going above 32Mbit/s at close range, although the signal remained strong enough at 20m to achieve an impressive 9Mbit/s.
Those needing advanced features may be frustrated by the Home Hub's simplicity; plus wireless speeds could be better, especially if you're considering BT's new high-speed Infinity service. Still, the Home Hub is attractive, easy to use and though we wouldn't buy it standalone, it's a plus point of signing up for BT's home broadband.