Most helpful critical review
63 of 69 people found the following review helpful
A good router with notable stability problems
on December 12, 2008
To begin, I purchased this router less than a few weeks before Christmas. This is actually my first wireless router (I had always used wired routers before), but I was able to plug it in, and connect perfectly fine. In less than 30 minutes, I was able to set it up, and my wired connections worked perfectly fine. Only problem was that the wireless didn't work at all.
I've struggled with the wireless for a week after I got this router. The problem was that upon first setting up the router, it would work fine, but as soon as you implement new settings (port forwarding or wireless security, for example), it would suddenly stop working. I found that hard resetting was the only way to get the wireless to work, but of course, leaving it as thus was unacceptable because I wanted to at least set up wireless security to prevent outside access. Unfortunately, after a few hours of struggling with this, it resulted in the wireless not working at all. Hard resetting, powercycling, reinstalling the firmware; nothing worked.
As a computer hobbyist, I usually pride myself on being able to fix things like this myself, but even I wasn't able to do anything. Needless to say, I had to call tech support. I may as well say here that tech support is absolutely worthless. I was routed to, where else, India, and got on with a tech support representative. I was led through the basic steps (and had to ask the rep. to repeat multiple times because I couldn't understand) and, at the end, the wireless still wouldn't work. The rep kept insisting that wireless isn't working for me simply because I either didn't have 'the drivers' or the 'proper wireless adapter'. Finally, I just had enough, and I was on my own getting the wireless to work again.
Just as I was having serious thoughts about making a return, however, I somehow managed to get the wireless to work. I must have had help from God because, at that point, it had seemed hopeless. Nonetheless, I did manage to get it working fine. I could port forward, set up wireless security, and basically do anything just fine. Unfortunately, it's not completely problems free. Like others, I have and am experiencing random connection drops (it seems as if the router randomly resets), but fortunately, it did not stop the wireless from working anymore. Furthermore, the Belkin Wireless N resets extremely quickly, so it's not as big of a deal as the previous problem to me.
Now that I am able to get the router working fine, let me review the actual router itself. Here is how the Belkin Wireless N ranks in the important areas of range, speed, security, stability, and features.
1) Range - I, like many others, purchased the Belkin Wireless N for the purpose of using the wireless feature. As such, one of the most important features to me is the range. After all, I didn't purchase a wireless router just to be confined to a single room because the range wouldn't extent past the walls. So then, how does the router rank in range? I would say it is fairly good.
I live in a three story house and the router is set up on the third floor. On the third floor and the second floor, the connection power is fully strong. However, on the first floor, the range just drops tremendously. On the first floor at the best location, the number of connection bars is usually one or two, which is a big drop. I suspect that there may be electronic interference.
For what it's worth, the range does seem to be pretty excellent, which is a commendable point on the Belkin Wireless N's part.
2) Speed - Of course, what worth is the range if there is no speed? I have tested the speed using the wired connections and the wireless connections and this is another commendable part of the router. The speed is just as fast wireless as it is with wired connections and both compares favorably with my previous router (all three matches the speed advertised by my ISP).
Truthfully, I had expected some loss of speed when using wireless, so this was impressive. It should be noted, however, that I was in the optimal position for speed testing (i.e. I was sitting right next to the router), so more likely than not, there would not some loss of speed if I had performed the test, say, on another floor in my house.
Regardless, the speed factor is definitely a category the router does well in.
3) Security - The Belkin Wireless N offers ample security to protect against outside invaders jumping on your network. From the simple WEP to the much more powerful WPA2 (I chose that one, of course), it really is nice security. Furthermore, if you chose one of the more simple security, the router actually offers an extra step of further encrypting the password for you.
Personally, I did not like the second encryption, but it is a nice thought nonetheless. I rank the router well in the category of security.
4) Stability - Well, as noted by the first four paragraphs of this review, stability is the one category the Belkin Wireless N fails miserably in (that and tech support anyway). Aside from the trouble of setting up the wireless to work correctly, however, there is also the problem of random dropped connections, which is fortunately mitigated by the router's ability to reset quickly, but it is still a problem nonetheless.
Aside from these problems, however, which can be solved through a router update (if Belkin ever decides to make another update, that is), the router really does not lose much else in the area of stability.
5) Features - Another category in which the Belkin router does well. The router comes with ample features which can all be found on the router's homepage. All the basic features and many more advanced features are here for the users' desire.
Personally, I have no use for many of the extra features (aside from port forwarding), so it's not a big deal for me, but the gesture is still appreciated nonetheless.
Alright then, so out of five categories, the Belkin Wireless N does smashingly in four of them. One would think this speaks favorably of them, but lets look at the realistic side: For the vast majority of consumers, only three of those categories truly matters. Those three categories are the range, speed, and stability. The Belkin router does well in two of them, but it fails in the last one spectacularly.
Furthermore, unfortunately for Belkin, many other routers offers excellent speed and range too, so doing well in just those two categories is not necessarily enough to make it pass with flying colors. It really was crucial that Belkin made its router stable and it is unfortunate that it was unable to do this well enough.
Overall, what would be my recommendation for the Belkin Wireless N? My recommendation is this: If you're knowledgeable about computers and is willing to work at getting a slick and powerful router to work, then the Belkin Wireless N is not completely bad. However, if you're just looking for a simple wireless solution, I would recommend a better router.