Belkin is perhaps best known for its series of Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS), but it makes and sells a wide range of computer peripherals, including many wireless network devices, in both pre-802.11n and 802.11g varieties. It’s the 802.11g version we’re looking at here, running at up to 54Mbps, but also fully compatible with the earlier 802.11b standard.
The F5D7230uk4 (not to be confused with the F5D7231uk4, which is a completely different animal) is a four-port router with a separate connection for a cable/DSL modem. It looks quite like an old, external dial-up modem, with rounded lines and a row of indicators along its front lip.
What tells you otherwise is the pair of swivelable WiFi aerials at the back, along with the network connections. There are four Ethernet sockets for a cabled network, as well as one for a modem and one for the separate, built-into-the-plug, power supply.
Unusually, a lot of the set-up is automatic, with the router searching out the parameters it needs from the PCs it’s connected to. Belkin’s claim of a three minute set-up isn’t far short of the mark, if you have a fairly standard configuration. You can also view the router’s firmware configuration pages in the conventional way, by pointing a browser at its IP address. The router comes with six-month free parental control software, making it a good choice if you’ll be installing it in a home environment with young children.
When we tried data transfer tests, we saw a better result than expected. Most wireless equipment slows down as the distance between transceivers increases. We tested the Belkin router with a notebook, using a wireless PC Card from the same company, at 8m and 35m. While it was slower than average at the shorter distance, its speed held up well when we took the connecting notebook outside.
At 35m, it was still running at around 9Mbps, which sounds low compared with the 802.11g spec of 54Mbps, but in real terms is pretty good when tested against its competition. It’s faster than some routers claiming to conform to the interim 108Mbps Super G standard.
Belkin is one of the few technology companies to offer a lifetime warranty on its products and this appears to be exactly what it says. Should your router fail, you can request a Return Material Authorisation (RMA) from the Belkin Web site to send it back, without any questions on when it was purchased.
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