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. 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 plain wireless 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.
Specs at a glance
|Highest wireless security||WPA2|
|Ethernet ports||4x 100Mb, 1x 100Mb WAN|
|USB print sharing/storage||Storage, printer|
|Accessories||Ethernet 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 100Mb WAN port sits at the top, which should suit most needs, unless you happen to be a rather lucky internet subscriber. Just like most routers that "detect" internet access, the N600 DB is a little stupid; if you've hooked up your net connection via LAN instead of WAN, rather than testing access, it just assumes that there's no net connection at all. This doesn't affect much — only online firmware checks — but it's such a simple thing, and many router manufacturers miss it.
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 things like parental controls under "Firewall" and calling them "Access Control".
Same old same old, but it works.
(Screenshot by CBS Interactive)
A long-standing Belkin bugbear, not being able to put spaces in SSIDs, has been rectified with the N600 DB. 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.
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.