When you think “Belkin” you probably think “laptop bag” or “USB hub”. But the compnay that makes the second best laptop accessories in the World (my opinion) has a lot more up its sleeve than you give it credit for.
This is what I found out recently when I was contacted by the local Belkin agency’s friendly PR people and ask if I’d like to try out one of the company’s wireless ADSL routers.
Yeah, what the hell. I reviewed my Tenda router a little while ago, why not see what the competition is like?
Belkin’s F7D4401 v1- or “Play Max” – is a mid-range wireless ADSL router that is as easy to set up and use as you would expect from the vendor. Many routers come with self-explanatory set-up apps, which can guide even the numbest of skulls through the installation and set up of their router.
The Belkin is no different, although I will say that the Belkin Router Manager app is a lot slicker than many of the router management apps I’ve used in the past (From the likes of Billion and Cisco Linksys).
What I loved about the Belkin was the built-in USB hub, which makes your devices available on your home wireless network without having to turn your computer on to share your printer or scanned with other devices. Even when your PC is off, you can still print wirelessly, which is a great feature.
When it comes to ADSL routers, it’s difficult for vendors to really differentiate themselves in the market, so the bundled software that comes with the Belkin router is a welcome addition to what would otherwise be a boring old router.
There’s a heap of software that comes with the Belkin, but I’ll focus on the ones that I really liked:
Bit Boost – is a QoS tool that allows you to set priorities for certain kinds of traffic on your netwotk so you get the best possible quality of service. It’s great for gaming and also for VoIP.
Memory Safe – Allows you to attach a USB hard drive to your router and then set daily backups of your files to the hard drive. Let’s face it, we should all backup more often.
Torrent Genie – If you’re massive Torrent user, you’ll understand the irritation that comes form having a download interrupted when your PC goes to sleep. Torrent Genie keeps your torrent downloads going in the background, even when your PC is in sleep mode.
Music Labeller– Corrects all the metadata in your iTunes or Windows Music Library if you’re not the most organised person when it comes to keeping your music labelled and indexed.
It’s got all the usual features you’d expect form a mid-range ADSL router, like ADSL2+ compatibility, four LAN ports, security features, guest access, Wireless N support, and better-than-average indoor wireless strength.
I have two major problems with this device though. First, it’s an old discontinued model. I could not find this router anywhere on Belkin’s various global websites and the current models (the N Series) on display on Belkin’s websites look a lot sleeker and prettier than this model.
Also, it’s priced at R1,699, which is steep for your average home user. Comparable Cisco Linksys and Billion devices are around R500 cheaper and if you consider the fact that Incredible Connection stocks Tenda modems (which I swear by) for R499…home users would be hard pressed to fork out this much money for an ADSL router.
This Belkin model is a lot better suited to small businesses with less than 10 users.
Belkin F7D4401 v1 Router
Available from: Incredible Connection
Verdict: Great quality, excellent features. But it’s pricey, and you’ll be buying an out-dated model.