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I could not be bothered with all the wires I had in the house connecting all my devices. I currently had a router with only 2 ethernet ports on it and I needed a new one because not only was I looking for a wireless connection I was also looking for some spare ports to connect up with becuase I had ran out. I decided to take a trip to my local Argos store and was able to find them on special offer. I only ended up paying £7.49 in total, which I thought was a great deal for an item that would have provided me with the additional ports that I desperately required and also the freedom of not having to connect wires all around my house. When I got the item home I was surprised at how quickly the installation process took around 15 minutes, which I thought was great. I didn't even need to call the technical line that they had advertised on the instructions manual. It works great however the only downfall I have is the reliability and stability issues. I would sometimes get full bars for reception and then all of sudden it would change to only a couple. This did happen quite frequent and I was assured by my son that it had something to do with thr wireless telephone that we had in the house. I decided to continue to use my handset regardless and even though the signal can occasionly decrease when in use it does not lose connection very often so it is alright.
I moved back into a cable area recently so with that needed a purchase for a cable router. On a midnight jaunt through the supermarket I picked this one up for about £30 and took it home to play with.
It's packed full of features once you've set it up and really lets you take control of the security of your network. It has all of the encryption you'll need to make the network secure and stop anyone with a wireless device that comes within range of your network gaining access to it. And you can take control of the network, assigning individual addresses to it in order to make more efficient use of your router. For example, I have a server on mine which takes care of all of my files, and therefore for the purposes of accessing it remotely, I tend to find it easier when the address is the same.
You can also access your restrictions on applications and games that require access to the outside world, by opening ports and gateways to enable this to be done as securely as possible. If you're required to access any of your computers from the outside world, ports can be opened to gain access to those as well.
On the router you can connect a vast number of wireless devices along with four wired ones. This is handy if you're out of wireless connectors or your simply prefer the reliability of having a wired connection. The transfer rates are fast as well. I generally find that when I'm copying a file from one computer to another then wired to wired is about 6mbps, and is it's to a non wired computer than it's about 5mbps: still one of the fastest transfer rates I've personally seen.
Other than that the features are fairly standard. I do have one serious issue with this router though. It does tend to drop out and loose signal if you're working on a wireless device. This can be incredibly frustrating knowing that it's the fault of the equipment, as I've noticed from friends and family that I know who own Belkin routers, and from the reviews other people have written on this product that I'm not an isolated incident. It's not overly frequent - about every three or four days and requires you to unplug the cord and reinsert for it to boot up again.
For me it's not my greatest concern as most of my items are wired but I know from experience that when you're doing something that involves a critical connection and the box stops working for no reason whatsoever, then it can be the most annoying thing on the planet!
Otherwise it's a great device, packed with internet security at its heart and is small, sturdy and cheap. If you plan to make the most out of the wireless functions and want it to be reliable though, maybe a different brand might suit you as I honestly cannot recommend this product on that basis from my own experience.
I have had nothing but problems from my Belkin Router. It set up fine and I everything ran smoothly. I could easily connect with my ipod and laptop all around my house. Allthough the signal was poor at times it had been a cheap purchase and I did not expect more. Then the problems began, the router would stop transmitting and would have to be unplugged in order for it to transmit again. After a while I got very aggitated at the problem and returned it to the Pcworld where I originally bought it. They gave me a replacement and that worked well for a few months untill the problems restarted. The product was then out of warrenty and there was nothing I could do to repair it. So unfortunatly I am stuck with a router with little capabilities, that only works on the short term. Just my experiences. I understand the problems have been resolved. The router was excellent up to the point where the problems started.
I've received an updated version of this modem - Version 7000 as a replacement for my older Belkin Router whose power adaptor burnt out.
Setting up a home network is a breeze, whether you use the CD or do it manually. In no time I managed to set up multiple computers and games consoles with no drop in connection. Like with most routers it is a good idea to connect to a desktop/main laptop via the supplied ethernet cable for security reasons.
However this router now falls into the budget end of belkin routers. Do not expect super fast wireless speeds of 300MB/s instead you will be confined to 54G (MB/s). That said I have still been able to use the router with 3 computers and 2 games consoles without a hitch.
Note that if you use the internet during peak times, your wireless connection may experience some lag.
In conclusion, this is a top rated wireless router that comes with a lifetime guarantee
The belkin 54g wireless router is very good when it comes to a strong signal, yet i still find it immensly annoying!!! When its running smoothly, it is no problem what so ever, but every now and then, maybe once every week or so, the signal will cut out for no reason and you will find yourself VERY frustrated when trying to retrieve it.
apart from this minor annoyance, the belkin is generally a very good piece of kit for your money. I payed around £50 for mine, and havent regretted it too much yet.
the quality is OK but not amazing, its built well as i found out when i trod on mine, not even a crack appeared, there was nothing damaged what so ever... wich impressed me because it looks plastic and cheap.
the belkin is very easy to use and can easily be reset with the little push button on the back if it does decide to go a bit off the rails. its easy to set up and get running ASAP. and easy to set up privacy walls and security.
the speed that the belkin 54g router generally runs at is anything from 30-50mbps depending on your network provider.
the belkin 54g is probably one of the best on the market for your money, but i think (unlike me) you have to have a good provider.
I have installed several Wireless networks for clients and my own with this device, i am unhappy to say that the majority have had issues with this router.
The biggest issue centered around the wireless signal suddenly dropping and then not successfully being restarted, this problem was not solved by firmware updates or changing the settings.
The second major issues affected people who happened to have xbox consoles attached to Xbox live. Whenever it was being played both the wired and the wireless networks went down, this is i believe due to the router not being able to route the requests effectively from the local network to the internet due to the ammount sent by the xbox. This effectively means that you can either surf or play xbox not both.
On a positive not the router was easy to install and set up and is compatible with WPA, the throughput was also not bad with about 10Mbps real speed at about 10m.
I did a lot of research into routers before jumping onto the wireless bandwagon and eventually plumped for the Belkin and I am more than happy with my purchase.
The Belkin was by far the cheapest router at the time (I paid £50 in 2005) compared to most other models which were on average £20 more expensive for what I could see, was the same functionality. The Belkin also offered free lifetime support which could turn out to be a lifesaver as I have become very dependant on the internet to carry out my day to day duties.
--Whats In the Box? --
There are no real surprises inside the box, you get the router itself, a mains power supply, an instruction book which is surprisingly good for an electrical product and a CD which contains all the necessary drivers and a more in-depth manual.
--Setting up the router--
Before you can connect to the router wirelessly, you need to have some form of wireless capability on your other device (desktop PC, laptop, PDA, games console, etc) I would recommend you install any necessary components on these devices first.
When you have a device capable of receiving the wireless signal, you will need to configure the router. This is done via an ethernet link into one of the four wired network ports on the router. As the router and wireless card in your other device have no information about each other, this is a very important stage so make sure you have an ethernet (CAT 4) cable available otherwise you will not be able to proceed. Once you have made this connection, the router will self-configure with your Internet Provider. At this point, you could continue to use the internet with the wired access but, seeing as you have just bought a wireless router, there would be little point in this. Now would be the time to test out your wireless connection by unplugging the ethernet cable and seeing if your router is detected by the wireless device.
I found this stage very simply to complete, I would say that it took 5 minutes to set up with my NTL connection. As I had done my research I had the ethernet cable to hand so I had no nasty surprises. All the setup is carried out via a web form within the router and is very self explanitory.
When I had established that the router and wireless device were talking to each other correctly, I wanted to apply some kind of security protocol as soon as possible. If I was to leave the router unsecured, it would mean that anyone in the surrounding area would be able to sit outside the house or in their back gardens and use my internet connection for free. Of course this bring all kinds of problems with it. suddenly, I would be responsible for the content they were browsing.
The Belkin router supports all the major encryption algorithms (WPA and WEP). When creating a security key, I made the mistake of attempting to do this wirelessly. Of course, as soon as I had changed the key on the router, my internet connection was disabled as the key on the router no longer matched the unsecure settings on my device. Luckily I was able to enter the passkey into the software on my device and get my connection back.
I chose the WEP encryption as at the time I had an old Windows 98 PC on my network that didnt support the newer WPA style. Again, I created the WEP code via the in build web browser. The Belkin router asked me for a phrase which it then converted to a series of hexdecimal numbers. There were 13 pairs of these number which was now my security key and would be needed to be entered into each device I wanted to connect to my router.
This stage was more complicated than it should have been as I was trying to enter the pass phrase into the device instead of the hex numbers that were generated. As I installed the router over Christmas, the Belkin support offices were closed so it probably took me a day or two to work this out as it wasnt clear in the manual.
The whole Belkin setup I have has served me very well. I have 2 PC's, a PDA and a PSP connected wirelessly to the router all at the same time as well as a network printer, connected by ethernet cable. All these devices connect perfectly to the router. It is very rare that I need to reset the router (once per month maximum) though I do switch it off overnight. I have found that I need to make sure my cable modem is switched on before the router else sometimes it has problems connecting to the internet. I have tested the range out on my PDA just for experimental purposes. I have no problem browsing the internet from the bottom of my garden and I have also taken the PDA 75 metres up the road and still been able to connect to the router.
I have also used the router for internal connections allowing me to access files on another of my PCs from the main one and vice versa.
I have had to phone the free Belkin support a couple of times, both when upgrading the firmware. The support technicians at the other end of the line have proved to be friendly and knowledgeable on both occasions and resulted in my getting up and running again in a short time. All support calls are followed up with an email questionnaire which is designed to allow Belkin to improve their service.
I am more than happy with this product. It has served me well for 18 months now and has proved to be very reliable. It is easily configurable via its web interface should you need to make changes. The four wired ports are more than adequate for the general home user and probably for the same business user too. Although this was the cheapest router on the market at the time I bought mine, it is certainly not cheap in terms of performance. I would recommend this router to anyone who wants to get onto the wireless platform or if anyone is looking to swap their current router. You cannot go wrong with the Belkin router. They are so easy to use, I've even talked somebody who is not computer literate through setting one up over the phone. It probably took 25 minutes in total which goes to prove how easy they are to set up and configure. It is imperative that security is used and this is the area of setup where you are most likely to encounter problems. Take your time with this step and you shouldnt have too many problems.
Well done Belkin, a quality product!!
Before I write about the Belkin Router, I think it may be appropriate to describe my experiences that led up to the decision of setting up a network so that both our computers could share our newly installed NTL broadband connection.
There was something about networking that I had a "monster" mental-block about and when asking advice, all I could get was "it's easy!" Well all I can say about that is everything is easy to those who know how.
I'm not a technophobe, but when something is working OK, I am of the opinion not to try and fix it. But I was getting fed up of my slow dial-up internet connection and it was really about time that I contacted my ISP (NTL) and ordered broadband, especially after reading several reviews - it was just a coincidence that I had not long received an upgraded computer and broadband was not something that was planned, but my wife said, "why don't we get broadband?"
"Good idea," I answered.
Well both our spare bedrooms have been turned into offices, my wife's and mine. I love to write and communicate on the internet and she loves to do her family history research. "After the broadband is installed, why not get a router and network the both computers?" she says.
"Good idea," I answered again. It's not that I'm a man of few words, it's just that I was a little more than concerned about the potential problems involved in networking our machines together, having given up the effort in favour of a USB to USB cable on my laptop a couple of year ago.
To go back to the broadband for a moment, when the installation day came around, the engineers were not happy about installing the cable modem upstairs in my office, even though they kept saying, "it's up to you mate, but we can put it downstairs and you can use a wireless router."
That, I thought, would have meant opening my brand new computer and putting in a wireless PCI card. No way was I prepared to do that. I wanted my new machine to be wired and my wife's to connect wirelessly, so with a few sighs they set about installing the cable where I wanted it. After considerable furniture shifting in our bedroom so that the cable could be routed through it (no pun intended), we had our first connection and got it working.
The very next day - I'm a glutton for punishment - we went out to look at some routers.
The Belkin G router, is what the helpful assistant in PC World advised us to get as we were connected to cable broadband with NTL. Questions I had were, "will the wireless connection connect through the thicker internal brick walls of our Victorian house?"
He assured me, there would be no problem at all, because this is how most students access NTL broadband in multi-occupation houses in Cardiff and he uses the product in a similar house to ours himself on four computers.
"Ah, what about if there are metal radiators on the walls? I have heard that this can block signals." I asked again.
"It should be OK," he replied, "but if the worse comes to the worse, you can always come back and change the USB network adapter for a long networking cable."
So we went for it. The router and a USB adapter for my wife's computer of the same make to match at a total cost of £74.98 (£54.99 for the Router and £19.99 for the wireless adapter). So I didn't have to open any machines after all!
In the box, was the G Router.
Quick installation guide - this was a chart that opens out with pictures and instructions of all the steps needed to get it up and running.
The CD. Installation software.
An RJ45 Ethernet networking cable to connect to the modem.
The power supply (it needs to be plugged into the mains - something else to add the spaghetti junction under my desk!)
The user manual - I should really read more carefully!
I set my computer up first on a wired connection from the Ethernet connector, into the router and then into the cable modem and was pleased that it worked OK after installing the software, which was simplicity itself - I just loaded the disk and followed the instructions to the T, which involved not connecting the cables until it said to do so on the on-screen installation wizard.
Next, my wife's machine that is at the back of the house about 40 feet away. I inserted the disk that came with the USB Network adapter and it all installed in the same way as my computer, no problems at all.
Now, with baited breath, could I connect to the internet? But the damned thing kept trying to dial up! Not something I wanted at all. Nothing would work at all. Angst!!! Then I realised, that I had to set up her computer to network, so I put the NTL disk I had been given to set up Broadband on my machine and put it in my wife's and that did the trick - we were networked and her machine was picking up the signal. Later on, I realised that I did not have to do that .
For problems in setting up your network through the router, Belkin has a free phone help line, which I did try to use at one time, but being a Saturday afternoon, it was busy. Not wanting to wait, I went on to their website at Belkin.com and soon found a useful animated set-up guide on how to get everything working correctly that a child could follow. This I downloaded to my computer.
Finally, if you don't want to tackle this job yourself, you can telephone Belkin and an engineer will come out an install it for you within 72 hours. At the time of writing, the estimate for a standard installation is £89.99 inclusive of VAT.
Performance & Operation.
I cannot discern any deterioration in internet speed at all even though both computers now share the same 1 GB broadband connection. But all we use the internet for is viewing webpages and entering data to sites such as this and would have no idea what it would be like to both try and download films/music.
The router itself is quite an attractive looking gadget and just sits on my desk with lights flashing on and off and data is sent and received to the worldwide web.
Other capabilities is has is that through the 10/100 4-port switch (I don't know what this means but we've got it!) we can share files, printer, music or anything either of us has on our hard drives. I can also plug the USB adapter into my laptop and carry it anywhere in the house and connect to the internet.
The router is also equipped with a firewall that will protect our network from hackers and such the like, although I still have Mcafee firewall/virus software installed and would not like to be on line without it.
Another available option is a parental control web content filter, so that parents can filter out undesired material when their children are on-line.
System requirement are
Broadband Internet connection (cable or DSL modem) with RJ45 Ethernet connection.
At least computer with an installed network interface adapter. I believe this is the card at the back of the machine where you can plug in an Ethernet cable.
TCP/IP networking installed on each computer. I think this is on most windows based computers.
Not being a techy sort of person, I have written this review to help other non-techy people get an idea of what is involved in purchasing a router and sharing a cable broadband connection and computer files if desired.
Thanks for reading.
When my old Netgear wireless router broke down (for the fourth time) at the beginning of December I decided that enough was enough.
A trip to PC world saw me return with one of these puppies (and £60 lighter in the pocket). 30 minutes after getting home saw my Internet access and wireless network reinstated. Yup, 30 minutes was really all it took, and that included unwrapping it, fiddling round with the power supply & cables as well as some basic configuration. This was helped along by the excellent quick-start guide on a large, fold-out sheet with it's clearly numbered and documented steps.
At about the size of a large-format paperback, it's middle of the road in terms of size. Aesthetically it's not going to win any prizes, but it does the job. There are screw-holes on the base to allow for wall-mounting should you desire. An array of LEDs on the front panel flash to show you that things are happening, 4 RJ-45 ports on the back allow you to plug up to 4 PCs into it and there's a 5th Ethernet port for connecting to your Internet connection to it. All are clearly labelled so you shouldn't have any problems. All 4 of the PC ports will automatically detect if they are being used to uplink to another switch/hub which is handy and saves fiddling round with buttons. Also on the back are the two stubby WiFi aerials that don't look half big enough for the job but seem to work. The power supply is a separate brick with a generous lead to both the plug and the device, giving good range when it comes to positioning the box, something that is important for a Wireless access point.
From a hardware point of view, it supports all of the major standards. The 4 computer network ports are capable of regular Ethernet (10Mb/sec) and FastEthernet (100Mb/sec) switched and give good performance between attached computers. On the wireless side, it supports both the older (and slower, 11Mb/sec at best) 802.11b and the newer (and faster 54Mb/sec at best) 802.11g. They are supported side-by-side out of the box so it is perfectly possible to have a mixture of devices, but as they both operate at the same frequency you will find that 'g' devices will be held back if there are 'b' devices using it as well. There is also support for the two wireless security mechanisms; WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) is available at 64 and 128bits but the configuration is messy and WEP has been proven flawed. You'll only use this if you are running older WiFi equipment that doesn't support the newer WPA (WiFi Protected Access), which is far easier to configure and more secure.
As an aside, the main benefits of securing your Wireless access are around bandwidth "theft", bearing in mind that typically an Access point in the home will be good for your neighbours both sides and across the road, depending on the size of your garden! It's also useful if you have more than one PC on your network and you share files between them as it would save anyone coming along and taking copies of your shared files. That said, it may not be such a problem with the Belkin as I have had disappointing results with the WiFi coverage from my Belkin. I live in a modern, stud-wall constructed house and my old (802.11b) Netgear used to give me good coverage throughout. The Belkin struggles to provide coverage from front to back so careful placement becomes more important.
Configuration of the device is all through a web-interface, so there's no driver or configuration software installation required. Password protection is available and I'd recommend anyone set up a password, especially if you're not going to secure your Wireless access with either WEP or WPA.
The other major security feature of the Belkin box is it's built in firewall. This effectively protects you from Internet-based hacking attempts and while it will not be able to guarantee 100% protection it is certainly a lot better than nothing. It's safe by default and the only reasons to change its configuration are if you want to do something slightly tricky, like host Internet multi-player games, or your own web-server or similar. This is where you will run into the first limitation of the Belkin. Unlike some of the more expensive firewalls out there, the Belkin only allows one incoming connection type to each internal PC, so it's not possible to set up your PC to hose Wolfenstein and Medal of Honour games at the same time, it's either one or the other. Thankfully Belkin have realised the limitation and tried to make it as easy as possible to change this aspect of the configuration. Other aspects of the firewall are slightly less intuitive to configure and are probably best left alone unless you are experiencing a particular problem. Fortunately the on-line help is pretty solid across all the configuration areas.
Some of the other more useful features are a semi-automatic firmware update check, a backup function for the router configuration and a Parental Control option, although the latter is subscription based rather than user-defined keywords. It also has the ability to support Universal Plug n Play (UPNP) should you need it, although this is off by default. Finally, there is good support for VPNs so all you corporate users that like to work from home (me included) are well catered for.
It all sounds pretty good so far and, for the money I suppose it is. But I've been spoiled by my Netgear so some of the limitations that bug me are:
- There's no support for Dynamic DNS, where the router automatically registers it's dynamically assigned IP address with a constant domain-name for easy reference anywhere on the Internet. So I have to do it manually once a month. Not a big deal, but mildly annoying.
- The firewall isn't as flexible in it's configuration as I'd previously been used to, either allowing me one service through the firewall per internal PC or everything to the PC with no firewall protection at all. There are workarounds to this (assigning multiple IP addresses to internal PCs is one way) but it's messy. Similarly, while scheduling of firewall access is supported it's also a bit fiddly to implement should you want to do so.
- The subscription-based parental control drives revenue, what's wrong with user administrated keyword filtering? It can't be that hard to implement.
Ultimately, you get what you pay for. My old Netgear was £150; this was £60 (now £50 in the PC World Sale). For 1/3rd the price, you certainly get more than 1/3rd the functionality so despite its shortcomings, I am pleased to say that it was a worthwhile purchase. If you need a basic home router/WiFi access point, it's just the ticket. If you want something more complex and you have the technical knowledge to understand what you need, the Belkin is flexible enough that you will probably find a way of making it do what you want although it may be a bit long-winded and some things may remain a manual task. In terms of its competition, I don't think there's anything out there to touch it on price. Pay £20 - 30 more and you will get most of the features that are "missing", but how much you really need them is up to you. So it's 4.5 stars for the Belkin, let down by some of its software features but rounded up to 5 for sheer value.
[ Originally posted on www.ciao.co.uk by me at the end of 2004 ]