Pros: Fast, Simple, Good Instructions, Good Security
Cons: Have to reboot it from time to time.
I originally purchased this wireless router because I wanted to use it with my laptop that had up to an 802.11n wireless connection. I ended up purchasing it for about $100 and got the extended warranty just in case I had issues down the road. My last experience with a Linksys router a few years ago made me a little skeptical about how well it would work, but I was pleasantly surprised at how simple and effective it is.
The package comes with the router, a quick install guide, yellow RJ45 Ethernet cable, setup CD, wireless security guide, network status display guide, and the power supply/cable. On the front of the router are six status lights that provide a quick method of understanding the status of the router, these lights change color from blue to a pinkish tone (they call it amber, but unless I am color-blind it’s not amber) and they are unlit, solid, or blinking. At the rear of the router are three 3.5”antennas that stick up vertically or can bent over, up to 90 degrees, in one direction and rotated about 270 degrees for the outer antennas and 180 degrees for the center antenna. On the back of the router you’ll see five color coded sections, from right to left, are the power port for plugging in the power supply (Black), a recessed reset button (White,) a “To Modem” RJ45 port with two green activity LEDs (Yellow,) four numbered “To Wired Computer” RJ45 ports, each with two green activity LEDs (Gray,) and a Push Button (Light Blue.) I’ll get into the details of each later. On the bottom of the router is the serial number, model number and similar information, as well as two cross slots for wall mounting and rubber feet that provide about 1/8” elevation for the vents on the bottom to breath.
Belkin seems to have tried to simplify the whole physical connection process by lettering all the parts in the package in the order that you are to connect them in. It worked pretty well for me. There is a step-by-step “Quick Install” card in the package that walks you through with lettered pictures and directions. As mentioned earlier, Belkin has color-coded the cables and ports to make it that much more simple. I won’t walk through the connection process, but here is the link to the Belkin support page where you can find the manual and other information for this router, at least the current page at the time of this writing: http://www.belkin.com/support/product/?lid=en&pid=F5D8231-4&scid=854
After finishing the physical connections you load the setup CD in your CD/DVD drive. Here you are given the option of selecting the language you want and the Setup Assistant or Main Menu. Setup Assistant does just what the name implies, walks you through the setup of the router. Main Menu takes you to a page that has options for the Setup Assistant again, Language again, Network Status, Manual Setup, User Manual, and Help. When I set mine up I used the Setup Assistant and got through it ok. It’s definitely not plug-n-play but still pretty simple if you just follow the guides.
Wireless Security is something that’s pretty important with a wireless router, at least to me. With it turned off other wireless users can tap into your bandwidth from your cable internet provider and worse; access your computer. Belkin offers a wide range of options when it comes to this and you should have been prompted during the Setup Assistant to configure it. Since I am going back after the fact I am looking a page brought up in a web browser by typing the IP address listed in the documentation. Under the Wireless section on the left of the screen, is an option for Security, clicking it brings up a page that allows selection of a Security Mode: Disabled, WPA/WPA2-PSK, 128bit WEP, and 64bit WEP. Next is Authentication: WPA/PSK, WPA2/PSK, WPA-PSK + WPA2-PSK. Encryption Technique is either AES or TKIP. After this is a window to type your PSK password. As far as I can tell this is pretty good protection but if you’re really concerned consult someone who knows this stuff well before deciding. I think it’s probably very good though. The browser also lets you control the router settings and troubleshoot it if necessary. From here you can change IP addresses, WAN settings, firewall settings, look at who is connected, set security, update the firmware, change the bandwidth 20 MHz/40Mhz, perform a soft reboot of the router and others options.
Ok, now the blue lights on the front of the modem. First is the Security light that indicates whether or not you have functioning security and its either lit or unlit. The Wireless icon that is lit solid blue when connected properly to a compatible wireless device, unlit when nothing is there, and blinking pink (also known as amber to Belkin) when something is incorrect in the wireless connection ( this also occurs when other people near my townhome are pinging it with laptops or whatever.) The Wired icon shows a PC that is connected via a hard wire to the modem, constant blue or blinking pink if there is a connection issue. The Router Power/Status icon flashes blue when powering on, then solid when the router is fully booted, next to it are three consecutively larger crescent shapes that represent radio wave and they indicate whether the wireless function is turned on or off. Next is the Modem status which is solid blue if connected properly, off if not connected and flashing pink if there is a problem. Lastly is the globe, Internet, icon that indicates blue for connected, flashing pink when trying to connect to the internet, and off when no connection is present.
The buttons on the back of the router are the Rest and Push Button. Pushing and releasing the reset button does just what it says; it resets the router, while keeping all your custom settings. Pushing the reset button for 10 seconds resets the router to the factory defaults and requires you go through all the procedures required for the initial installation. The Push Button is listed in the manual as being set aside for future upgrade operations and to check for the latest firmware, so I have no clue what it does. Firmware can be updated in the control/setup browser so I don’t know why they mentioned it in the description for this.
So far I like the router a lot. I mostly use it with my Playstation 3 (PS3) since I took our laptop back. My internet connection is with Comcast and provides 6Mbit/s connection through a cable modem. The PS3 has 802.11g wireless connection that provides up to 54Mbit/s connection. This all translates to a maximum download speed of 720Kbytes/s for my Comcast connection (well under the PS3 max 54Mbit.) If your wondering what the difference is between a Byte and a Bit, there are 8 Bits per Byte, which is where some people get confused. Plus there is the issue of Mbps or Kbps being used to describe a connection type. Since most of us look at files in Byte size, as in Kilobyte or Megabyte, we then see Mbps or Kbps as meaning Mega or Kilo Bytes when it’s really Mega or Kilo Bits. I tested the router today by timing the downloading two files from the Sony Playstation store, the first was 117Mbytes and downloaded in 2minutes 50 seconds, which translates to 688Kbytes/s. The next file was 658Mbytes and took 26 minutes to down load, which is about 420Kbyte/s. I think the router is capable of maxing out my connection but the Playstation Store may have been limiting my download speed. The only problems I have with the router are that I have to reboot it frequently because my internet connection goes away. The router rebooting has become more frequent since I started using the power management feature in Windows that powers down the system after 15 minutes of inactivity. Prior to that it only happened once. I either have to go to the web browser control page mentioned earlier and perform a soft reboot, hit reset button on the back, or unplug the power cable and reboot it that way. That’s really my only gripe. When it comes to the range of the unit I can really test it out at the moment since I live in a townhome and the router in about 12 feet away and on the second floor above my PS3. I do notice people in my area trying to connect to it though, so it goes beyond my walls well enough.
I have owned it since October of 2007 and its still plugging away.
(Update) After owning it for less than 3 years it just died.
LEDs Power, Wired, Wireless, Modem, Internet
Link Rate Up to 300 Mbps in 40MHz Channel Mode
Maximum Users 253 (LAN), 16 (WLAN)
Ports Ports 4-10/100Base-T auto-sensing and auto-uplink RJ45 ports, LAN 1-10/100Base-T RJ45 port, WAN
Range Up to 1,400ft*
Security WPA, WPA2-Personal, 64-bit/128-bit encryption
Specifications Standards IEEE 802.11b , IEEE 802.11g , IEEE 802.11n draft*
VPN Support IPSec pass-through , PPTP
• At least one computer with an installed network interface card
• Broadband internet connection with RJ45 (Ethernet Connection)
• Internet Browser
• TCP/IP networking protocol installed on each computer
Easy Install Wizard System Requirements
(not required to use Router)
• A computer running Windows 2000, XP, Vista or Mac OSx v10.2, 10.3, or 10.4
• CD-ROM drive
• Internet Browser