At first glance, the Belkin Wireless Pre-N Router does not look like much -- basically a flat grey box with three antennas sticking out and a few LED indicators. The unit includes four Ethernet ports and the slim case and sleek look make it easy on the eye and it wouldn't look out of place in home or office.
But enough about how it looks -- it is what's inside that matters. The configuration for the Belkin Wireless Pre-N Router is quick and painless and even a "newbie" user will be able to get up and running in no time. In addition to the features that you would expect from a wireless router, the Belkin Wireless Pre-N Router comes with access to Web content filtering which includes parental control, so you can block out unwanted Web sites. As with most wireless routers, it also features security delivered through Wi-Fi protected access (WPA), a firewall and pop-up/adware/spyware blocking. Unfortunately the Web content filtering and blocking features are only provided as part of a 6 month trial offer, if you are looking for a permanent solution to either of these problems, you will need to fork out some cash.
The real differentiator with this router can be seen when you plug it in and test the coverage area and speed. Belkin claims that the router has increased coverage by up to 800% and to test this we plugged the router into a home network and then tested from various locations around the house using the accompanying Pre-N notebook network card. We received a clear, consistent signal in every room and decided to venture to the roof of the building (one floor up) and the signal still stayed strong. Intent on finding the maximum range, we took my laptop down 6 floors to the street level and was amazed to still find a clear, strong signal. It wasn't until we started walking down the street that the signal was actually lost, but the coverage provided is well beyond any other router we have used or reviewed.
When tested with a "normal" 802.11b network card on another computer, the connection speed did not drop for the laptop equipped with the Pre-N network card installed -- this functionality is provided through Airgo Networks True MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) antenna technology. This is one of the router's main selling points and for users who are serious about their connection speed, this is a must-have -- it means that devices with different wireless protocol speeds can connect to router and function at the best connection speed available.
In total, the Belkin Wirless Pre-N Router is a sign of things to come and for users who need more speed, it is well worth the price for both the router and optional network card.
David McAmis writes for ZDNet Australia's sister site, CNET.com.au. Read more consumer technology stories from CNET.com.au here.
Belkin Wireless Pre-N Router
Phone: 1800 666 040