How can something so hip also be disappointing? Belkin's N1 Vision Wireless Router has style, a slick user interface, a gigabit ethernet switch, and innovative features never seen before in a consumer Wi-Fi router - features such as an LCD status screen and a browserless security setup.

It is also 802.11n Draft 2.0-certified (thus promising interoperability with other Draft-N devices), it has the best setup process we've ever seen in a Wi-Fi router, and Belkin N1 Vision's range is superb.

However, while the features are cool (and some are quite useful), mediocre performance and a sky-high price tag spoil the picture. For more than £100 we expect a top-performing router, but the Belkin N1 Vision was only as fast as non-gigabit 802.11n routers costing half as much.

That flashy LCD status screen is the Belkin N1 Vision's raison d'etre. At 1.5x2.75in, you can't read it from across the room, but it's still useful. You can set the screen to show one of seven different informational displays, such as connection status/SSID/number of devices connected, current and maximum upload/download speeds, current connection speeds for each computer, internet usage for each computer for the past 24 hours, and a date/time screen. While these displays are fun to explore at first, after a day or two they lose their novelty.

Of more lasting utility is the ability to set up security via the LCD, especially for guest users. The Belkin N1 Vision lets you set up a guest Wi-Fi net with a separate password that's isolated from your private network, so that guests can't access your computers, servers or printers. And you can view and change security settings on the LCD, allowing a guest to have access right from the router without delving into the web setup utility.

Also, if you have devices with Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) enabled, the Belkin N1 Vision offers push-button setup so you don't have to know or enter long passwords. You first touch the WPS setup option on the LCD screen, and then the same button on your computer or other WPS-enabled device within two minutes, and you will be connected automatically. It's sort of like unlocking the door for two minutes to allow someone in.

NEXT PAGE: performance results and verdict > >


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