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Belkin Wireless Pre-N Router

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March 16, 2006

Overview


Review

The Belkin Wireless Pre-N Router takes wireless routers to a whole new level by being the first to use the new MIMO technology. MIMI stands for multiple input/multiple output and it uses a single channel for multiple data streams, which in turn, produces greatly enhanced range and throughput of wireless networking based on a new specification called 802.11n. It's also compatible with both the standard 802.11b and 802.11g wireless specs.

If you've used wireless routers in the past, then you'll be right at home with the Belkin Wireless Pre-N router because it's just like any other one. It offers four integrated Ethernet cable jacks for connecting network computers via standard Cat-5 Ethernet cable on the back along with a WAN port to connect the router to your broadband modem. There is also a series of LED lights along the top of the router that blink to tell you that traffic is passing across the router's wired and wireless network interfaces. The biggest difference between this and other routers is the presence of three external antennas, located on top of the rear panel, which are the key to the router's excellent performance.

Setting up the router was a snap because the included installation software is wizard-driven and very intuitive, even for network novices. With the Belkin Wireless Pre-N client card (sold separately; $99.99 retail), users can either install Belkin's client utility or rely on "Windows Zero Config." We recommend the Belkin utility, since it offers access to configuration settings that are otherwise not available in the Windows XP Wi-Fi utility. In addition, this utility provides the option of saving profiles of detected wireless networks and gives detailed signal strength and connection speed information for wireless links.

The included features in the Belkin Wireless Pre-N router are just like any other wireless router. It includes a packet-scanning hardware firewall that blocks a wide range of attacks and lets you block access based on a computer's hardware or MAC address. You can also choose protect the wireless LAN with either WEP or WPA, we recommend WPA. The router's many advanced features, which are accessible via the unit's browser-based configuration tool, include virtual server support, which is perfect if you plan to run Web or other Internet-services behind the router, a DMZ setting that you'll need to play certain games on the Internet, and a remote management feature that lets you configure the router via the Internet.

Having fast throughput (speed) is essential to a wireless router or else it isn't worth buying it. We are pleased to say that Belkin's Pre-N router does not fall short in this department at all. Speeds measured at about 40 Mbps at 60 feet from the router, which is over 200% better than competing 802.11g routers on the market. Also, at the 160-foot mark the Belkin unit was still going strong at about 12 Mbps, which is excellent for that long of a range.

In review, the Belkin Wireless Pre-N router doesn't fall short in any aspect. In fact, it even catapults past any speed or distance boundaries set by any other wireless router on the market. This is an excellent router to buy if you want to latest and greatest wireless technology. Keep in mind, however, that if you want to utilize the full benefits of this router, you have to use the Belkin Wireless Pre-N client card (sold separately; $99.99 retail).

Bottom Line

Pros: Super-fast speeds, extremely long signal distance, strong firewall
Cons: Requires Belkin's MIMO-compatible client card to benefit from all of the performance
Editors' Rating: 5 Out of 5

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