Belkin Wireless G Plus MIMO Router
The Belkin Wireless G Plus MIMO Router is part of Belkin's push to bring the benefits of MIMO to wireless networking while keeping the price tag less than $100. The G Plus MIMO Router incorporates an Airgo Networks True MIMO chipset and antenna (two, as opposed to the three for the Belkin Pre-N router), which theoretically enables the router to pull off extrafast data throughput from far distances. While the G Plus MIMO Router trailed its big brother, the, in CNET Labs' tests, it bested or tied some of its three-antenna MIMO competition, which is impressive considering its low price. The G Plus MIMO Router also excels in other areas, including excellent documentation, an easy setup process, a full-featured configuration tool, and a lifetime warranty. Still, if you can afford the extra cash, Belkin's three-antenna Pre-N MIMO Router offers the same perks with more speed to boot. (And as of November 2005, we've seen street prices for the Pre-N router of less than $100, which makes the choice a no-brainer.)
The Wireless G Plus MIMO Router's design offers both highs and lows. On the upside, its gray-and-black color scheme blends inconspicuously into the background. You can point the two adjustable antennas on top of the unit in the direction of your wireless device, helping to increase your signal strength (the more expensive version has three antennas). Also on top of the router are seven status lights that tell you when you have power, an active wireless connection, and Internet connectivity, as well as when you have devices connected to the four color-coded, well-labeled Ethernet ports on the back edge. Wall-mounting brackets underneath the router allow you to hang it on a wall or ceiling, where it in many cases, it will deliver the greatest strength. On the other hand, keeping the router on your desk means you must lay it flat and consume precious desktop space, since its rounded edges and thin body prevent you from standing it on end.
Belkin does a great job with the Wireless G Plus MIMO Router's documentation and setup. The router ships with both hard and electronic copies of the well-written quick installation and user guides. With the help of clear text instructions and colorful screen shots, the install guide walks you through the simple process of setting up the router and installing the corresponding, browser-based configuration tool. The tool lets you alter the router's ample features, which begin with establishing an SSID as well as WEP or WPA keys. From there, you can perform many other settings adjustments, such as filtering certain MAC addresses, enabling the built-in firewall, placing one of your computers in the DMZ (demilitarized zone) outside of the firewall, and turning on the QoS (quality of service) feature, should you use the router to stream VoIP or multimedia packets.
With its MIMO antenna and chipset, we had high hopes for the Wireless G Plus MIMO Router in CNET Labs' tests, but our hopes were a bit too high. It earned a mediocre 18.2Mbps throughput time at a range of 200 feet, half of the Belkin Pre-N router's 36.4Mbps from the same distance. Once again, the Pre-N router came out on top in mixed-mode throughput, scoring 42.1Mbps to the Wireless G Plus MIMO Router's 27.6Mbps. The Belkin Wireless G Plus MIMO Router fared best in the maximum throughput tests at 43.3Mbps, just under the Pre-N router's 45.7Mbps. Compared to MIMO offerings from other vendors, the G Plus MIMO Router performed decently, tying or besting the more expensiveand the in max and mixed throughput scores. It seems to suffer most in long-range throughput, which is supposed to be one of MIMO's strengths. As other sub-$100 MIMO Routers roll out from other vendors, we'll see how this one's performance stacks up against the competition.