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Belkin Play Max ADSL Wireless Router review

Kat Orphanides
30 Jul 2010
Belkin Play Max ADSL Wireless Router
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
113
inc VAT

The Play Max ADSL router costs a lot but has the features to back it up – if you need them.

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Specifications

draft 802.11n dual band, 4x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet ports

Belkin’s Play Max ADSL router is as feature-packed as they come, with simultaneous dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless radios, Gigabit Ethernet, two ports for USB device sharing and a guest network. This is particularly impressive given that ADSL routers often have fewer features than their cable equivalents.

The wireless connection is secure out of the box, so at no point can strangers wander on to your network. The default wireless password is printed on the base of the router. A 2.4GHz wireless guest network allows users to access the internet but not your local network. By default, this is protected using ‘cafe-style’ security, which requires guests to log in via a web page using a password.

Despite its pre-configured security, you’ll probably still want to use the wizard on the supplied CD to set up your wireless and ADSL settings, as there’s no configuration wizard built into the router’s otherwise comprehensive interface. The CD also includes a number of software tools that allow you to use the router's extra features.

The tools include a scheduled backup utility, management tools for printers and hard disks connected to the router, and the Vuze and Torrent Genie clients that allow you to download queued BitTorrent content to a hard disk attached to your router even when your PC is switched off. Documentation is rather scant, but they’re all easy to use.

Belkin Play Max ADSL Wireless Router

However, we were annoyed to find that many of these features - particularly the print server and BitTorrent client - couldn’t be managed from the router itself and required us to install Belkin’s Windows or Mac OS X software on every computer we wanted to use them from. You don’t have to install software on your PC to see shared USB drives on the network, but you can’t actually control them (mount or unmount, format etc.) via the router’s web interface, either.

In addition to the client-based Play Max capabilities, the router has all the usual features, including DDNS via DynDNS, QoS profiles, port forwarding and static routing. There are no parental controls but you can disable the wireless radio during fixed hours using the router’s Eco Mode settings.

The Play Max is quick, managing 41.9Mbit/s at 2.4GHz and 44.15Mbit/s at 5GHz in our 10m throughput test using our Centrino 2 test laptop. However, its performance at 20m only reached 13.7Mbit/s with our laptop. We got that up 19.1Mbit/s - just about enough for stable HD video streaming - at 5GHz and with Belkin’s own F7D4101 wireless adaptor (£44). However, the router’s 5GHz performance can’t rival the near-Ethernet speeds we saw from Linksys’s WAG320N, our 5GHz record holder.

Although the Play Max performs well and has loads of great features, it falls just short of an award. It’s the most versatile dual-band ADSL router around, with few serious rivals, but its high price and dependence on software tools mean that it's only worth buying if you really need all of its features.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
Modem typeADSL
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
Draft 802.11n supportyes
Draft 802.11n 5GHz supportyes
MIMOyes
Turbo modechannel-bonding
Stated speed300Mbit/s

Security

128-bit WEPyes
WPA2yes
Firewallyes
MAC address filteringyes
DMZyes

Physical

Size179x44x155mm
Antennas3
Internal/external antennasinternal
Upgradeable antennano
Number of WAN ports1
Ethernet ports4
Ethernet connection speed10/100/1000Mbit/s
Other ports2x USB
Wall mountableyes
Power consumption on10W

Other Features

Dynamic DNSyes
Universal Plug and Play supportyes
DHCP serveryes
MAC spoofingyes
Port forwardingyes
WDS Supportyes
USB device supportyes
QoSyes

Buying Information

Price£113
Warrantytwo-year RTB
Supplierhttp://www.play.com
Detailswww.belkin.com