Review: Belkin ADSL Modem and Wireless-G Router
Don Bradbury tries a popular piece of hardware for setting up and sharing a fast Internet connection
|Product||ADSL Modem with four port Wireless-G Router|
|We like||Good connectivity; fast connections|
|We don't like||Instruction sheet may not cover every eventuality for the installer|
The world may be awash with ADSL modems that come with an integral wireless router, but Belkin always seem to be near the front of the queue when the list is compiled. Perhaps it's because their company name starts close to the beginning of the alphabet!
Connecting the hardware for your home PC and network of computers is easy, whether wired or wireless, and the quick start guide that Belkin provide is adequate for you to have this done within minutes. The devil is more likely to lie in the detail of the connection than in the hardware setup, however.
It's achieved via the usual web-based interface, entering 192.168.2.1 in the Browser's address panel, and for the connection to the router via a wireless LAN-enabled PC you can use wireless channel = 11, SSID = belkin54g and, for starters, security = off. When you have that running, switch security on, using WEP or WPA, and perhaps change the SSID to your own preference (recommended - Ed).
Standards and Compatibility
This device is a 2.4GHz ADSL2 modem and is 125Mbps high speed wireless-G (802.11g in the UK) compatible. WLAN security is in the form of 64-bit WEP or 128-bit WEP, WPA-PSK and WPA (Radius Server). Protocols supported include ISP, PPPoE, PPPoA, 1483 Bridged Dynamic/Fixed IP, and 1483 Routed. LAN, CSMA/CD, TCP/IP, UDP, AppleTalk and DHCP (client and server).
VPN support extends to PPTP, L2PT, and IPSec pass-through. Management is password protected browser-based, with a maximum number of user of 253 (LAN) or 32 (WLAN). The four ports are 10/100Base-T, auto-sensing, and auto-uplink RJ-45 (LAN). Security comes in the form of NAT and SPI hardware firewall, backing up your software firewall - which should be left active.
There's a bank of green LEDs along the front, each labeled with the duty they report (power, ADSL, Internet, WLAN, LAN (1,2,3 and 4), and a bank of ports along the back for power and RJ-11 DSL line-in, together with four ports to which you can attached up to four PCs through RJ-45 Ethernet cables.
But it's the twin rod aerials at the rear that give the game away; this device is intended mainly for wirelessly connecting your computers together, with IEEE 802.11b/g and IEEE 802.3 10Base-T Ethernet (LAN), as we said, and the equivalent 100Base-T fast Ethernet supported, giving an operating range of up to 200 feet under ideal conditions.
You'll need TCP/IP networking installed on each computer, and at least one computer with an installed Network Interface Card.
When it came to setup, we had some difficulty with the particular ISP in use (TalkTalk). Belkin's technical support recommended that we switch off auto-DNS selection and manually enter 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 as our preferred and alternate DNS servers. There are a pair of US-based servers that have a good reputation for speed, reliability, and stability. Whatever their virtues, we finally obtained speedy, solid wireless connections so we were happy to leave the setup as recommended.
Belkin's "Easy Install Wizard" did not, as you might expect, settle this particular wireless connectivity issue for us, and in short, we felt that the setup routine may have left something to be desired in terms of finalising a satisfactory outcome - though we can't necessarily blame Belkin for every ISP's peculiarities. Nevertheless, when we had the wireless network running, it worked well. We used the Belkin Wireless-G USB Networking Adapter that we have reviewed separately to set up one notebook PC, and another had wireless networking built-in. The modem/router we set up with as much height as feasible to provide maximum range within the building, and the connections were then solid. We can't ask better than that as a final outcome.