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Belkin N1 Vision review

Verdict

Innovation and solid performance in an attractive package make the N1 Vision stand out, but it's expensive.

Review Date: 15 Jul 2008

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: £109 (£125 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £91
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
3 stars out of 6

Performance
6 stars out of 6

Most routers look fairly nondescript; it's what's inside that matters. Belkin's latest box, however, delivers a lot more than your average bland plastic box.

It's an unusual shape, for starters: leaning at an angle with three stubby aerials protruding from the rear, it makes quite a visual statement. But it's not the piano-black finish or upright stance that really stands out; it's the screen.

The N1 Vision provides a graphical representation of all sorts of information that's usually available only through a router's web interface. You can see download and upload speeds, download totals and details such as security settings and the names of connected clients.

Also accessible from the screen is a guest account feature, which you can use to provide visitors with secure access to the web without having to allow access to the rest of your network - a second SSID is created with a secure PIN.

Belkin makes a good effort to ease setup, too. Rather than using a CD-based wizard, you just type "routersetup" into the address bar of your browser and you're taken through the device's internet and security setup wizard, which encourages you to change the password and set up WPA security.

Performance hasn't suffered with all this innovation. We achieved solid speeds in every location around the house. Strangely, the fastest were achieved upstairs and in the kitchen, with adjusted figures of 38Mb/sec and 40Mb/sec respectively. Same-room and next-door performance dipped slightly below this.

Even in our extreme test at the bottom of the garden, speeds were respectable at an impressive adjusted rate of 22Mb/sec. In all locations, the test 1080p WMV HD file played pretty smoothly, with average throughput rates remaining steady at 8.7 or 8.8Mb/sec.

It's even strong on features. It's the only router here with four Gigabit Ethernet ports, and comes with an impressive limited lifetime warranty. It's less suited to business use, though, with no WPA2 Enterprise encryption, no intrusion detection and limited VPN support.

Overall, we don't think these extra features and its swish look quite justify the £100-plus price, but if you're after a speedy router with a difference, the N1 Vision is it.

Author: Jonathan Bray

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