Wednesday May 23, 2012 10:25 am
Belkin N900 DB router review
Belkin announced the N900 DB router back at CES. The Advance N900 DB is a dual-band Wi-Fi router that supports 802.11a/b/g/n connections, capable of reaching 450 Mbps speeds due in part to its six MultiBeam antennas. The Belkin Advance N900 DB also sports a feature called IntelliStream, which automatically prioritizes video streaming, gaming, and VoIP data. The router also packs a 600 MHz multi-thread processor, and two USB 2.0 ports that you can connect hard drives to for access to that data from network devices. The Belkin Advance N900 DB is available now for $199--but is it worth your hard-earned Bejamins? We answer that question in our review.
We know, you're probably not gonna be staring at your router all that often, but we at least wanted to give Belkin a shout-out on making the N900 look great. It's a sleek, glossy black that looks similar to the Belkin N750 (not a bad thing.) The router can stand vertically, but we just laid it flat on its side since we have it stored away in a networking closet. The router has a WAN port and four gigabit Ethernet ports, alongside the two USB 2.0 ports.
If all you want to do is plug this thing in and let it go, that's pretty simple. We like to tinker a bit, and we recommend that you do too. The Belkin N900 DB comes with an app that you can use to set up all the preferences for novices. For us, we just jumped right in to the web interface. For starters, Belkin has set this router's IP address to 192.168.2.1, while most others are 192.168.1.1. That was the first change we made, which is when we also realized that pretty much any change would require a 90-second reboot. So, setup wasn't as quick as we would have liked, but once it was done, it was done. This isn't something you'll have to mess with all that often, if at all, once it's complete.
The N900 DB is a dual-band router, which means you can enable and use both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands simultaneously if you'd like. We'd obviously recommend that, since that's the reason you'd buy a router like this. Let your 802.11n 5 GHz devices connect to the more stable band, while your other devices hit the 2.4 GHz connection. We've certainly seen a couple of routers that performed faster, but the N900 DB is no slouch, and the gigabit wired connections are top notch to boot. We've got a hybrid wired/Wi-Fi setup at Gear Live HQ, so we definitely appreciated that. As we said, we have the router tucked away in a network closet, but range was still great for Wi-Fi devices.
Connecting external hard drives and printers to the USB ports worked as expected, and the 600 MHz processor did its thing and kept the network humming along while allowing us to read and write to the attached storage device with print jobs going at the same time.
One nice feature is the guest network. Other routers have the feature as well, but we like the choices that Belkin offers here. Basically, you can create a Wi-Fi network that allows your guests to get onto the Internet, but that won't allow them to access other network devices. You can control access with a regular Wi-Fi password, but the N900 DB also gives you the option of using a sign-in page. So guests hop on the network, pull up a browser, and type in a passcode there, similar to what you find in some cafes, airplanes, and other public Wi-Fi offerings.
The Belkin Advance N900 DB is a great dual-band router. It blows away the Linksys Cisco model we were using before it, both in terms of range and speed, as well as with the many configuration options it offers (despite the long reboots you have to sit through while configuring said options.) It looks great, and if you have a wired network, you'll appreciate the speed there as well. Purchasers of the Belkin Advance N900 will likely be satisfied. You can pick up the N900 for $199.
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