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Right from the outset, it's important to note that there's a Belkin N600 DB that's just a wireless router, and one that's a wireless modem/router. While they share many similarities, these are very different beasts performance-wise, so the results here should not be conflated with the other product. For this review, we're focusing on the modem/router version.
It's an odd shape, this one. A vertically standing, convex wedge in piano black, with a rim of grey and an activity light on the top. Despite looking near identical in pictures, the modem/router version is larger than the.
Specs at a glance
|Highest wireless security||WPA2|
|Ethernet ports||4x 100Mb|
|USB print sharing/storage||Storage, printer|
|Accessories||Ethernet cable, phone cable, installation CD|
The N600 DB takes the standard approach; four 100Mb Ethernet ports, and a USB port that can manage either printing or storage. A phone jack is on top to connect to the internet. Belkin isn't particularly friendly with where it stores its ADSL settings; they're filed under "Internet WAN".
Power jack, USB, 4x 100Mb Ethernet and 100Mb WAN port.
UI and features
Belkin hasn't given its UI a once over for a very long time. It's still the same old grey, which works well enough, but it's certainly dull. Page level contextual help is given via a link at the top right. While a techy will be right at home, for a company that appears to pitch itself at less-educated users, the UI is nigh on hostile, hiding ADSL settings under headings like "Internet WAN" and putting parental controls under "Firewall" and calling them "Access Control".
Same old same old, but it works.
(Screenshot by CBS Interactive)
Unlike the N600 DB wireless router, this model carries on the incredibly annoying Belkin bugbear of not allowing spaces in SSIDs. It supports such features as guest wireless (on 2.4GHz only), QOS, outbound WAN stats, a media server and the standard glut of features that you'd expect on a standalone router.
In a disturbing trend, saving settings on the router is incredibly slow, which is a vastly frustrating experience for someone who is trying to set up their network just right. Often, it restarts the router to apply a setting that shouldn't need a restart, dropping all connections. Although the time varied depending on what changes we made, on one particular settings change we were asked to wait for 100 seconds — utter madness.
After analysing the spectrum with InSSIDer, an empty channel of either 1, 6 or 11 is chosen for 2.4GHz wireless testing. Usually, the router is restricted to the 20MHz band if the option is available.