BT Home Hub 4 review
Like the BT Home Hub 3, the BT Home Hub 4 is an ADSL2+ modem router with a single Gigabit Ethernet port, three Fast Ethernet ports, a USB port and an RJ11 input that lets you connect the device to your broadband microfilters.
Unlike the BT Home Hub 3, the BT Home Hub 4 is a dual-band device, which means it accepts connections from devices on both the 2.4GHz band and the less congested 5GHz band. This works concurrently, so you can connect 2.4GHz devices, such as many smartphones and laptops, to it as well as 5GHz devices such as recent Apple iPads.
Although the 2.4GHz band should theoretically deliver faster data transfer speeds at greater distances than the 5GHz band, the 2.4GHz band is saturated with traffic. As a result, we often see faster data transfer speeds on the 5GHz band, even at 25 metres, so the dual-band nature of the Home Hub 4 means it should provide a speed boost to your network users with compatible devices, especially if you’re connected to the internet with BT Infinity.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case in our wireless performance tests. The Home Hub 4 produced data transfer speeds of 49.3Mbit/s at one metre, 45.8Mbit/s at 10 metres and 7Mbit/s at 25 metres. These speeds are only slightly faster than the speeds produced on the 2.4GHz band, where we saw 46.7Mbit/s at one metre, 44.2Mbit/s at 10 metres and 10.8Mbit/s at 25 metres.
To demonstrate the difference in performance that we expect to see, the Billion BiPAC 7800DXL produced a transfer speed of 24Mbit/s at 10 metres on the 2.4GHz band and 93.2Mbit/s on the 5GHz band. We achieved faster speeds with the Home Hub on the 5GHz band when we used the Billion BiPAC 3010ND Wi-Fi adaptor rather than the built-in Wi-Fi adaptor of our test laptop. With the Billion BiPAC 3010ND, we achieved 58.6Mbit/s at one metre and 46.7Mbit/s at 10 metres, but these aren’t as high as we expected.
Even so, the Home Hub 4’s 2.4GHz band performance is very good, and certainly better than that of the BT Home Hub 3, which produced data transfer speeds of 33.1Mbit/s at one metre, 29.7Mbit/s at 10 metres and 9Mbit/s at 25 metres.
The web interface remains pretty much unchanged from the Home Hub 3, which is no bad thing, as it protects inexperienced users from altering settings they shouldn’t and lets more experienced users exploit functions such as Dynamic DNS and port forwarding.
It looks pretty good too, not too techy, so it should fit into your home OK. We really like the removable card with the SSID and wireless key written on it, making it easy to add new devices without having to read off the back or bottom of your device.
Although we like the BT Home Hub 4, we were disappointed with its Wi-Fi performance on the 5GHz band. We also think it should have four Gigabit Ethernet ports rather than just one so that you can get the best performance out of wired devices such as NAS enclosures and Desktop PCs.
Although the Home Hub 4 has a USB port, BT doesn't advertise the point of it. You can, however, use it to attach storage so that you can share it with other users on the network and use it as network-attached storage. We inserted a regular USB flash drive and had no problem accessing it as an SMB share so that we could watch videos, listen to music and look at photos stored on the flash drive wirelessly from our PC.
It’s a great device if you get it free with your BT Broadband contract, and it looks great, but you’d be much better off investing in a modem router such as the Billion BiPAC 7800DXL rather than buying one.
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