By Ian Knott
I’ve become a big fan of Belkin products over the last few years, mainly because of their build quality, style and ease of use. Their latest range of wireless routers only serve to solidify my feelings towards the brand.
There are 5 models in the router range (and 4 in the modem router range) so whatever your wireless computing needs are, there will be a model perfect for you. I had the pleasure of trialling the top-end model, the Play Max.
The Play Max (and Belkin Routers in general) epitomizes the term ‘plug n play’. Wireless networks can be a nightmare to get your head around if you’re not technologically minded, but the Play Max makes setting up a breeze with just 3 very simple steps and even comes with preset security settings to ensure your network is protected from the word go.
Dual-Band N technology gives you the fastest, most reliable speeds for video, music and gaming – with speeds up to 300 Mbps up to better wireless High-Performance Dual-Band Networking N+N/802.11n
It has 4 LAN ports for wired connections and 2 USB 2.0 ports for a printer or external hard-drive. Why would you need an external HD connected directly to your router you ask? Well the Play Max comes with some very clever applications built in that make it more than just a router.
Firstly, and perhaps the most useful for many is Torrent Genie. If you’re downloading large torrent files while you’re at work/school or at night then you can feel free to turn off your computer and let the Play Max and Torrent Genie download the file for you. Then when you next turn on your computer the file will be there for your enjoyment.
Music Mover is another app that lets you wirelessly share your music collection from your computer or external HD with other wireless devices such as your Xbox 360 or PS3 and through to your stereo.
The Memory Safe app automatically backs up any precious files to an attached external HD. While this is something most computers can be set up to do automatically anyway, Memory Safe made setting up a back-up schedule very simple.
I am constantly fighting for bandwidth in my household despite having fairly decent broadband. My son often has a friend over and both of them connect their Xbox 360’s wirelessly to Xbox Live for lengthy Modern Warfare 2 sessions. Often at the same time someone will be on FaceBook or TradeMe, I might be doing some website maintenance or downloading large files or even be playing online on the PS3. The Play Max has a clever application called Bit Boost that allows you to control the traffic flow depending on what your priorities are. Working something like a graphic equalizer I can prioritise bandwidth to go to Xbox Live while reducing the bandwidth needed for web surfing. No more filthy looks from my son when his game starts to lag out.
There’s a handful of other apps that are more of a novelty than anything , but one valuable tool is the Self Healing app which automatically detects and resolves network problems and runs routine maintenance scans to give you the clearest wireless connection available. This app alone will prevent many future ‘techno-headaches’.
At just $329.95 I cannot recommend the Surf, Share or Play Max range of wireless routers enough. You need virtually no knowledge of wireless networking to set them up successfully and that’s exactly how it should be.