Belkin N600 DB Wireless Dual-Band N+ Router (F9J1102uk) review
The N600 DB is an ADSL wireless router designed for high-throughput tasks such as, according to Belkin, streaming video. The router has what Belkin calls Multibeam technology – this is similar to the SmartBeam technology found in the D-Link DIR-645 router, where it can focus energy to connected devices to improve throughput. It's also dual-band, so compatible devices can connect to the router over the less-congested 5GHz band to avoid interference.
Setup is beautifully simple, and can be done over a wireless connection so you don’t have to move your PC near the router. Once you’ve plugged the router into your ADSL line the setup CD takes you through finding and connecting to the router from your PC with an encrypted wireless connection, before it tests your ADSL line and asks for your broadband username and password. The only strange part was when it asked for VPI and VCI numbers, which we’ve never been asked for when setting up an ADSL router, but the usual 0 and 38 worked fine. We were up and running connected to an ADSL line with a secure wireless connection just 10 minutes after we plugged in the router, which is impressive.
The setup CD also installs the Belkin Router Monitor application, which sits in your system tray. Right-clicking on its icon gives you shortcuts to the router’s web-based setup page, its manual and the media sharing and backup functions. The last option comes into play when you connect a disk to the router’s USB port. We plugged in an NTFS-formatted external 500GB hard disk, and the router recognised it straight away. When a disk is connected you can browse its contents on any PC with the Router Monitor software installed, and you can also play video and audio and view image files on DLNA or UpNP devices on the network. We had no problems playing music, watching films or looking at photos over the network on a PC and on a Motorola Defy Android smartphone running its built-in DLNA app. You can also use the Router Monitor to back up selected folders on your PC to the networked hard disk, and it will back up new files once an hour automatically.
To get at the router’s advanced settings you need to use the web interface. The layout is nothing groundbreaking, but it’s easy to see where all the options are and the help text is clear. All the usual options you’d expect are there, such as port forwarding and QoS, and we particularly liked the guest network functions. Here you can set up a wireless network where guests can access the internet but not anything on your network, and you have the option of making the guest network encryption-free, WPA-protected or ‘café-style’, where you can connect to the network freely but are then presented with a web page requiring a logon password.
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