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Belkin N150 And N1 Vision

Wireless Networking: Nine 802.11n Routers Rounded Up

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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