Pre-N Wireless Router (OBSOLETE)
Comments: Belkin were kind enough to send me one of these to play with and I've got to say that I was very impressed with its performance. While the blurb on Belkin's website of 800% better coverage and 600% greater speeds than 802.11G may lead people to expect greater performance than the reality, they're still one of the best performing wireless devices I've ever tested.
What to expect:
First I thought it would be worth testing with other brands of Wireless Network cards just to see what would happen.
Using a Netgear WAG511 I got pretty much the same performance as the majority of standard 802.11G Wireless Routers will provide with a true throughput (using Qcheck) of around 18-22mbs. Worth noting that the WAG511 Network card is capable of speeds of up to 108mbs (around 40mbs in true throughput) with other Netgear 802.11G+ equipment, but connected to the Pre-N Router the best it would come up with was 54mbs speeds which is what generally happens when mixing up different standards and/or brands of wireless products.
Range wise I was able to take the Laptop directly in front of my house (I face a street with a cul-de-sac and public park at the end) around 100 metres away with the Router inside behind one single brick wall before the signal got too choppy to be usable. This is pretty much the kind of range I see from most of the better Wireless Routers. However, another Laptop on the 2nd floor above carries a Minitar MN54GCB Wireless Card which usually shows a signal strength of "Good" in its usual spot. Connected to the Belkin Router it showed a signal strength of "Excellent" so there was definitely some improvement there (going through a few obstacles).
Adding wireless security didn't slow things down noticeably. 128bit WEP showed pretty much no change in throughput, while a drop of around 10% was evident using WPA-PSK. However, I did notice that throughout often dropped noticeably after changing a security setting until the Router was rebooted.
Swapping the Network card over to Belkin's F5D8010 Pre-N PCMCIA card made things a lot more interesting.
(The PCI version for Desktop PCs called the F5D8000 is yet to be released.)
Throughput improved to 38-42mbs which I was still achieving almost 100m away at almost 70% signal strength, and I was still getting a reliable connection a bit over 150m away which was well into the public park. This was a good 20m further than I've previously been able to achieve with any other Router in the same circumstances. Awesome!
So, if you plan on using the F5D8230 with existing 802.11B & G cards then although you will get some pretty decent performance, it may not be worth the extra dollars compared to a few other products that can perform pretty much the same for quite a bit less money, but use Belkin's Pre-N Wireless Cards with the F5D8230 and it's a very worthwhile investment.
Other features include a well thought out interface that I found very easy to navigate without reaching for the manual.
The built-in login client was easy to use and didn't even look like dropping out during the couple of days I had it plugged in.
Firewall features include the ability to forward port ranges, and IP filters which can restrict access to certain Internet activities for certain computers at certain times. Wireless security features include 64 & 128bit WEP, WPA-PSK and Mac Address control. There's also a check box to enable QoS ability for VoIP, but I'm not sure why this is only for the Wireless PCs and not any attached by cables.
There's also a unique one click button to turn into just an Access Point (no firewall or Internet connection or sharing) which makes this process a lot easier than with most other Wireless Routers.
Parental control is subscription based (free for 6 months). A subscription service allows much better parental control with up to date information constantly being made available. Subscribing is easy using the Web Interface in the Router, but unfortunately there's not a shred of info anywhere to be found on Belkin's website about what exactly it does and how much it costs apart from this press release I found on Belkin's USA site. Here we learn that it's the Cerberian service which is also available with a variety of other manufacturer's products including Cyberguard (Snapgear) and very well respected as one of the best content filtering services available.