This is the first part of my review of the Belkin Pre-N Wireless Router.
It’s not going to go into too much detail – there are plenty of indepth technical reviews of this product floating around, this is going to be more of a real world example.
First up, getting it up and running was very straightforward. Being an über geek, I dispensed with the automatic setup software and just decided to plug my laptop in and connect to the router’s web interface. As all I needed it to do was be a wireless access point (or bridge), I simply chose the option "access point only" and the Belkin disabled all the routing/NAT/firewall features automatically. I assigned it an IP address for the LAN address on my fixed network, then plugged it into my switch. Now it was just a matter of setting the SSID, WEP keys and MAC address filtering and I was away. Probably 10 minutes at most.
One of my laptops refused point blank to see the network, but it’s been a bit dodgy of late anyway. Amazingly I told Windows XP to "repair" the wireless connection and it sprang into life! My Netgear MP101 music player was also a bit funny – in the end I did a factory reset on it and it too started working.
The reason I dispensed with my old Buffalo APs was their shoddy range. The Belkin is absolutely awesome in this regard. Before, I would get no signal in my bedroom (furthest point away from the AP), or worse still, some signal that would drop out every minute. Now, I get at least 3 out of 5 bars’ strength and the full 11Mbps on my 802.11b wireless card. After I installed a Belkin Pre-N PC Card into my laptop, I got the full speed of 108Mbps and full strength in there – absolutely amazing!
So, from the point of view of easy-of-setup and range it scores pretty highly. However, today (48 hours after installation) I’ve discovered a problem: when attempting to use the 802.11b cards you cannot upload any files via FTP or SMB. With the Belkin PC card in place, it works a charm. Having tried a plethora of different settings and laptops and firmwares, it seems to be an issue with the AP itself. I’ve contacted Belkin technical support in Europe, so fingers crossed they can tell me what the problem is.
Hopefully good news for part 2 of the review then!