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Belkin N150 And N1 Vision

Wireless Networking: Nine 802.11n Routers Rounded Up
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We’re not going to burn a ton of time on these units, since Belkin is now preparing for a total router line refresh. Having tested these two current models, we can see why. For starters, we have the N150 ($44.99), one of the first routers to use the 11n spec with only a single antenna. You’ll see these marketed as “lite” or “150" models because, with only one radio and antenna, they’re incapable of leveraging 3x3 MIMO and don’t meet true 802.11n specifications, even when using a 40 MHz channel mode. The only conceivable reason to do this is to drop total unit costs, but when you can get a true, decent 11n router for only $10 more, you’d have to be mental to buy a 150 variant. And yes, Belkin has it’s “Basic” model with 150/Lite coming out soon for $34.99 MSRP. Whatever. The N150 has four 10/100 ports, the integrated essential features, and approximately nothing else.

The N1 Vision ($119.99) makes different mistakes. Without question, this is an impressive-looking unit, with a svelte, upright orientation, three unobtrusive antennas affixed to the back, and a very slick LCD that shows WAN and LAN speeds, the number of attached devices, the speeds of those devices, recent usage traffic, and a clock. One can never be surrounded by enough clocks. Other vendors have taken their own stabs at LCD routers. D-Link even touts some of its OLED- and LCD-based models as being “green.” Someone please explain to us how adding an unnecessary display assists with energy savings. You can toggle between the screen’s various readouts via a four-way control pad located to the right of the display. Hopefully, you keep your router within easy reach, not in a closet.

Is the N1 Vision more than just a pretty face? Belkin delivers four gigabit ports, a CD-less installation routine, and multiple SSIDs. We really like this last feature for people who frequently have guests joining on to the network or simply want a decoy for war drivers. You can create a visible “guest” SSID for these infrequent visitors while your own SSID stays hidden and/or encrypted. Overall, the N1 Vision is a very friendly router. The shame is that its price tag matches its sexy appearance, but not its performance. We hope that the new Belkin routers deliver more performance than the current lineup, but the specs listed on Belkin’s site now don’t give us much reason to anticipate radical change. Headline “apps” such as “Torrent Genie” and “Bit Boost” look to us like new names for older features.

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Top Comments
  • 10 Hide
    Anonymous , April 20, 2010 7:00 AM
    The testing is flawed in that there could be great variability in adapter performance, as admitted by the author. A true "router" comparison would use a common non-partial built-in Intel wifi link miniPCIe card to isolate router performance. Otherwise, too many variables are introduced. Besides, most ppl buy routers for routers, not in matching pairs since most ppl already own wifi laptops or adapters. Smallnetbuilders tested the Netgear WNDR3700 as one of the best performing routers on the market. Obviously this review unit is hampered by the Netgear adapter.
Other Comments
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 20, 2010 6:24 AM
    Which version of the Linksys WRT610N did you use? V1 or V2?
  • 1 Hide
    deividast , April 20, 2010 6:25 AM
    I want one of those Linksys :)  I use now WRT54G and it's doing it's job, but it's a bit slow some times then transfering files from notebook to PC :) 
  • -9 Hide
    vant , April 20, 2010 6:26 AM
    I'm surprised the 610N won. Without testing, the general consensus is that Linksys sucks except for their WRT54s.
  • 10 Hide
    Anonymous , April 20, 2010 7:00 AM
    The testing is flawed in that there could be great variability in adapter performance, as admitted by the author. A true "router" comparison would use a common non-partial built-in Intel wifi link miniPCIe card to isolate router performance. Otherwise, too many variables are introduced. Besides, most ppl buy routers for routers, not in matching pairs since most ppl already own wifi laptops or adapters. Smallnetbuilders tested the Netgear WNDR3700 as one of the best performing routers on the market. Obviously this review unit is hampered by the Netgear adapter.
  • 6 Hide
    vant , April 20, 2010 7:13 AM
    kevinqThe testing is flawed in that there could be great variability in adapter performance, as admitted by the author. A true "router" comparison would use a common non-partial built-in Intel wifi link miniPCIe card to isolate router performance. Otherwise, too many variables are introduced. Besides, most ppl buy routers for routers, not in matching pairs since most ppl already own wifi laptops or adapters. Smallnetbuilders tested the Netgear WNDR3700 as one of the best performing routers on the market. Obviously this review unit is hampered by the Netgear adapter.

    Good point.
  • 1 Hide
    The Greater Good , April 20, 2010 9:25 AM
    I will never buy a Linksys again. No 64 bit driver support! What gives?
  • 4 Hide
    cag404 , April 20, 2010 9:44 AM
    I just replaced my Linksys WRT600N with the Netgear WNDR3700. I have not used the WRT610 that is reviewed here, but I can say that the difference in routers is noticeable. The reason I replaced the router was that the WRT600N was dropping my port settings used to provide remote access to my home server, and I got tired of it. Wanted to try a different router so I went with the Netgear based on a favorable Maximum PC review. Glad I did. It has a snappier feel and I get a stronger signal throughout my two-floor house. The Netgear has not dropped my port settings for my home server yet. Also, I didn't like that fact that Linksys abandoned the WRT600N with no further firmware updates after about the first or second one.
  • 0 Hide
    pato , April 20, 2010 9:45 AM
    Was the Linksys the V1 or V2 variant?
    Which firmware was installed on it?
    I have one (V1), but am very unhappy about the signal range! I have it replaced with a WNDR3700 and have now a twice as strong signal as before!
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , April 20, 2010 9:55 AM
    No D-Link DIR-855, DGL-4500, no Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station?
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , April 20, 2010 10:22 AM
    Would have been nice to see the WAN-LAN throughput/connections as well for wired connections, but I guess all people but me use wireless for everything nowadays...
  • 1 Hide
    opmopadop , April 20, 2010 10:30 AM
    I use a Linksys WAG160N, it wasnt reviewed here but I wanted to share that it has the same crappy problem of dropping internet connection. The competition can learn alot by making sure their routers dont suck as much as Linksys's do!
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 20, 2010 11:46 AM
    Linksys must make an official annoucement/support page about WAG160N, i have two and wired connections can not see wireless ones and vice versa, they even didnt make a firmware for that.
  • 1 Hide
    Stillglade , April 20, 2010 12:12 PM
    Would be an interesting follow up article to flash the WRT610N with DD-WRT firmware to compare against stock. Basically, answer the question of is it the hardware or the software that makes it so good?
  • 2 Hide
    Zenthar , April 20, 2010 12:22 PM
    I think Linksys Linksys E series should have been evaluated as well. Assuming a new version would perform at least on-par with the previous one is really bad analysis. There is so many things they could have screwed or even improved (one has to be positive as well).
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 20, 2010 12:24 PM
    tried 3 different routers and the linksys was the only one that would not freeze up with NETFLIX streaming from my Samsung Blueray player. Netgear, dlink, and Belkin all froze up after a about 75% of the buffering...requiring a power cycle of the router and the samsung player.
    Bit the bullet with the $$ and opted for the Linksys and am very pleased.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 20, 2010 12:28 PM
    Try TP-Link TL-WR1043ND , it is ~80&
  • -2 Hide
    cag404 , April 20, 2010 12:40 PM
    CoriassiNo D-Link DIR-855, DGL-4500, no Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station?


    pato, my WRT600N was the v1 variant. I forget the release version of the firmware, but it was the latest version, as Linksys has not released any updates for it in roughly a year (I've had the router since a few months after it was first released). I liked it due to the dual radios, however, but it would drop wireless clients randomly (which was aggravating and required me to reset the router about once every other month) and it would not retain my port forwarding settings for my home server. And I agree with you, signal range was marginal with that router.
  • 0 Hide
    zelannii , April 20, 2010 1:00 PM
    No Apple Airport Extreme considered????? Its the stick we measure the rest by in many cases, or at least most other sites do. How did you guys miss this one? Please amend to include the Airport in relation to the rest.
  • 3 Hide
    zelannii , April 20, 2010 1:14 PM
    1) should have tested both with the "matching" adapter, and also with the generic Intel Wireless N chipset which is what 90% of people likely use (and the AMD equivalent). VERY VERY few people buy the matching adapters, especially if one is built in. It's a STANDARD now, so interoperability with "supported" adapters should not be an issue for the vendor (and if it is, that's actually IMPORTANT)!

    2) Should have tested N + G concurrency on 2.4GHz as well as N only on 2.4 + 5GHz concurrency (for devices that had dual radio). This data is important for most people who will run a Wireless N device or two, but likely also have a few smart phones or a game console that only supports 2.4GHz... I know the Airport Extreme currently has a bug making this dog slow, do some of the others?

    3) onyl 2 concurrent devices? how about 5 or 6? I regularly have 7 or 8. I notice performance drops off consistently just based on the number of connected devices, even if only one is "in use" actively downloading, and want to know if some routers hold out better with that.

    4) no feature comparison chart?
  • -1 Hide
    pluripotent , April 20, 2010 1:16 PM
    I bought that linksys and the connection was so unstable that it was totally unusable. After spending way too much time on it, I got the D-link dual band router, the DIR-855. I stream live talks over the router, and using 2.4 GHz, I would have consistent brief signal disconnections every few minutes. 5 GHz solves that problem, but you need a compatible adapter.

    How much did you guys test the shareport function? (Not much from what it looks like). The shareport function hooked up to an external hard drive only works if you are transferring a file or two using windows. It totally fails when you try to us it with a 3rd party backup program (such as acrea). I personally haven't tried connecting a printer to shareport. I also couldn't get it to work using eraser (a disk erasing utility. I concluded that it just doesn't work with third party apps. So far, none of the driver, firmware or shareport software updates have fixed this problem.

    D-link does have a nice forum on their site where people can post their problems. For fixable problems, other users will helpfully solve your problems. For unsolvable problems (shareport being one of them) the user complaints just keep piling up. Rarely do d-link's own tech support grace the forums. Apparently, D-link is currently collecting all of the shareport grips and cataloging them. Ostensibly, this will result in a fix at some point in the future. Still waiting.
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