Belkin Play Max N600 HD
Belkin Play Max N600 HD£81www.belkin.com/ukAlthough this Belkin router was not the best performing router in our tests, it came ab
Belkin Play Max N600 HD
Although this Belkin router was not the best performing router in our tests, it came above average in most of them. Its close- and medium-range results were very good, but it dropped off a little in longer-range tests. You can’t help but wonder if the design plays a part – the package looks neat but its aerials are buried inside.
The ease with which this router is set up, using the step-by-step instructions and supplied software, is another of its strengths. You can set it up relatively quickly from the CD using a handy wizard. It’s worth installing the supplied software, which comes with a selection of tools, though some are more useful than others. Particularly handy, for example, are the tools for controlling the device’s two USB ports and its QoS settings (Quality of Service – which gives priority to more sensitive network traffic, such as gaming and video streams, over email and browsing). The tool that lets you create playlists of music files, on the other hand, is next to useless.
The Belkin’s USB ports are extremely well implemented. With the software installed, a drive letter is immediately associated to any USB storage plugged into the router, which makes it very easy to access any content stored on it. There are other handy features, such as a bit torrent client that continues to download to USB storage, even after the computer is switched off.
The router has a ton of other useful features, including Gigabit Ethernet (which can operate 10 times faster than regular Ethernet if it’s linked to a compatible device); dual-band Wi-Fi (so you can get improved short-range access with compatible 5GHz adapters); port-forwarding (which configures certain traffic to go straight to a particular port on a particular device and can thus help speed up activities like gaming); and DMZ (demilitarised zone, which offers similar speed boosts to port-forwarding, and is easier to set up but less secure).
Verdict: 5 stars
The Belkin Play Max N600 HD is a great router, offering high-end features in an easy-to-use package. It isn’t the fastest of the routers on test but it’s up there with the best – you get superb performance with only a slight drop-off at longer distances.
It’s very simple to set up, but there are plenty of advanced features to explore. The hardware specification is also very high. This pushes the price up but, if you want a high spec with plenty of features, it’s worth paying extra.