For anyone who is *less than* technically gifted (myself included), choosing a wireless router can be a daunting prospect. Luckily most Internet service providers will give you a router as standard - but there are those amongst us who want to choose our own. If you're not too sure what a router actually is, it's simply a networking device (normally taking the form of a small box) which, after you plug your phone line into the back of it, lets you hop onto the internet either wirelessly or via an ethernet cable.
Today I'm looking at the Huawei Echolife HG532, which Talk Talk have adopted as their current box of choice. It's probably an understatement to say that Talk Talk isn't the most respected of Internet companies (due to poor customer service in the past, although it's arguably a lot better these days), and their router is actually pretty good. Cost wise, you can pick up the HG532 from a number of online outlets - but eBay is perhaps the best place to buy as you can purchase one brand new in the region of £25 - £35.
Design & Appearance
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The router itself is a fairly pretty little number - rectangular in dimension, and small in scale (16.4 x 14.2 x 2.5cms). Clad in white plastic, the front of the device features ten (yes, ten!) lights which show the status of your various connections. In terms of build quality, the Huawei feels lightweight and a little flimsy - it's certainly not as well constructed as, let's say, BT's HomeHub. That said, a router doesn't necessarily have to be especially tough, as it's not something that needs to be transported around on a regular basis. For the technoboys and girls amongst you, the HG532's wireless performance (using Wireless N technology) is up to 280Mbps, and regarding security, the router can support a number of encrypted wireless codes including the WEP, WPA, and WPA-2 format.
Using The Device
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Connectivity-wise, the Huawei is a fairly well kitted out piece of equipment. Round the back there are inputs for 4 LAN Ethernet cables, the obligatory ADSL socket, and a USB port. In my experience I've found that the general reliability is high - I can't speak for what Talk Talk do on their end of the line - but between the HG532 and my computer / phone / PS3, the wireless connection has been immaculate. From the point of view of speed, the router is very quick to get up and running - it takes around two minutes to nip onto the web from the time you press the 'On' button (my old BT HomeHub's took five) which is certainly good enough for me. The wireless range is good too, comfortably reaching through four story's of a house - it should also be pointed out that whilst in operation, the HG532 is completely silent (as it should be!).
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Overall, the Huawei EchoLife HG532 is an easy to set up and reliable router which is trusted by one of the major internet providers as their standard model. Providing you buy the device for under £30, you'll certainly be getting your money's when you consider the pleasant design and solid performance.