A dual-band router with an impressive wireless range
Belkin’s Play N450-DB router sits right in the middle of the company’s current product range. Like the company’s other routers there are two versions, suitable for ADSL and cable broadband, respectively. We reviewed the cable version (the ADSL model costs £20 more).
It supports two independent and simultaneous wireless networks. One uses the 2.4GHz frequency that other networks use and offers speeds up to 150Mbits/sec, while the other uses newer 5GHz signals for speeds up to 300Mbits/sec. There is also guest access on each network, which in turn allows a computer to access the internet while preventing it from accessing other devices.
The design is elegant. Belkin goes to great lengths to make products easy to set up. Even the power and internet connection cables are pre-connected. At the rear there are four wired network ports, though these use the slower 100Mbits/sec speed, not the latest one which is 10 times faster.
The automated setup was slick and the N450-DB uses a technology called Multi-Beam to maximise the range of the four internal antennas. We were sceptical, but the results convinced us. At a 25m range, its real-world data transfer performance using the 2.4GHz connection was nothing special (10Mbits/sec), but using the 5GHz channel it averaged 16Mbits/sec. We’ve rarely seen a 5GHz router connect at this distance – the range is usually about 10m; Belkin has discovered an impressive trick, which makes this model attractive to those wanting to stream video.
The advanced configuration menu is unchanged from previous Belkin models, and was easy to use although technical in places. The main feature of interest is a setting called Quality of Service that helps media streaming run smoothly. There’s also a ‘self-healing’ feature that runs maintenance tasks weekly to keep it in working order.
The N450-DB is an attractive router with impressive performance, although it lacks the advanced features, such as USB ports, of more expensive models in the Belkin range.
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A router that is incredibly simple to set up and has outstanding wireless performance, but otherwise fairly basic features
Easy setup; dual wireless radios; exceptional range at 5GHz; guest access
No fast network ports and no USB sockets
Phone 01933 352000
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