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Wireless Reviews

Introduction

Updated 11/11/2008: MacOS version of Storage Manager is available.

Belkin N+ Wireless Router

At a Glance
Product - Belkin N+ Wireless Router (F5D8235-4)
- Belkin N+ Wireless USB Network Adapter (F5D8055 v1)
Summary Single-band Draft 2.0 802.11n router with gigabit switch based on Ralink chipset
Pros • Gigabit switch supports Jumbo Frames
• Guest access w/ captive web portal and AP modes
• Network sharing of USB flash or hard drive
Cons • Basic routing feature set
• No control of file sharing feature
• Very slow file sharing

Belkin is in the process of revamping at least the lower end of its draft 11n router line, which includes the Belkin N and N+ Wireless routers. I looked at the Belkin N as part of our Cheap Draft 802.11n Router Roundup. It actually did pretty well, but I couldn't give it top ranking because I couldn't attach it to the Azimuth test system that was used to test all the other products in the roundup. The "N" has since received a packaging makeover so that it looks similar to the N+, which is the focus of this review.

Like the "N", the N+ is a two-antenna router based on Ralink silicon (more shortly). But where the "N" has 10/100 WAN and LAN ports, the N+'s WAN and four switched LAN ports are gigabit. The N+ also has a USB port that will make a USB flash or hard drive available as a networked share.

Figure 1 shows the N+ front panel, which skips the fancy graphic display found on Belkin's top-of-the-line N1 Vision router [reviewed]. Instead you get the series of backlit blue icons that are used across the board in the revamped router line.

N+ Front Panel
Click to enlarge image

Figure 1: N+ Front Panel

The only nod to gimmickry is the "Broadband Download Speedometer" bar display that sits at the top of the front panel. I didn't find the speedometer that useful and would much rather have the Wired and Wireless Computer Status lights blink to indicate network activity.

The rear panel layout (Figure 2) doesn't have link/activity indicators on each of the auto MDI / MDI-X 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports, either.

N+ Rear Panel
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: N+ Rear Panel

If you like to wall-mount your router, then you'll need to build a little wall-mounted shelf for the N+. There are no screw mounting slots and I couldn't remove the base without fear of breaking it off. Also note that the antennas are external and moveable, but not upgradeable.

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