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Belkin Wireless-G Travel Router review: Belkin Wireless-G Travel Router

The titanium-hued (the bottom and sides are black) Belkin Wireless-G Travel Router is about the size of a large pad of Post-it Notes, weighs next to nothing, and can be powered by either a modest-size wall wart adapter or a USB power adapter, both of which are included. Unlike other travel routers, which tend to be functionally brick-shaped, the Belkin looks like a full-size router that's been zapped by a futuristic shrinking ray, complete with a 2-inch-long side-mounted antenna. While we appreciate the clever design, the antenna feels flimsy, as though it could be snapped off with a bad grab. The router comes with a zippered hard-shell case (a really nice touch) that houses the router, power adapters, and supplied Ethernet cable. It's approximately 6 inches long, 4 inches wide, and a couple of inches thick; it should fit nicely in a briefcase, a backpack, or any other travel luggage.


Belkin Wireless-G Travel Router

The Good

The Belkin Wireless-G Travel Router is supertiny, making it perfect for travel, and it has three modes of operation: as a router, an access point, or an adapter.

The Bad

This travel router runs a bit warm, and the fragile antenna may be easily broken off. It's also not the speediest travel router out there.

The Bottom Line

The Belkin Wireless-G Travel Router combines great design and support, a low price, and decent performance, making it an obvious choice for business travelers who need Wi-Fi connectivity.
Belkin Wireless-G Travel Router
Belkin's Wireless-G Travel Router (model number F5D7233) is indeed designed for traveling. In fact, the tightly coiled Ethernet cable that comes with the router has a larger footprint and weighs more than the router itself. While the Belkin Travel Router doesn't provide the fast throughput of MIMO-enhanced wireless networking equipment, its 802.11g performance is easily fast enough for its intended role--granting wireless access where only wired broadband connections are provided, such as in boardrooms and hotels rooms. The only addition we would've liked is a wired Ethernet port for supersecure networking, such as the one on the Linksys WTR54GS. With a price tag of $69.99, the Belkin router is right in the middle of the travel router pack in terms of both performance and price. If you need better maximum and long-range throughput than the Belkin offers and can afford to drop a few more bucks, check out the 3Com Travel Router. Otherwise, the Belkin Travel Router hits that sweet spot of price vs. performance.

Setting up the Belkin Wireless-G Travel Router is a bit trickier than normal, largely due to the fact that it can also function as an 802.11g adapter to provide a wireless connection for computers lacking one or as an access point to extend the range of an existing network. A switch on the back of the unit lets you choose the mode. An install wizard on the included installation CD makes setup for all three of the modes quick and painless, but we wish Belkin had listed in the hard-copy setup sheet the URL where the router's HTML setup app may be found. (It's, by the way, but this can be found only in the PDF manual on the install CD.) The Belkin's HTML configuration app is the only thing about this router that isn't small; in fact, it's quite full-featured. The router includes most of the usual security bells and whistles that a full-size router offers, including an NAT firewall, WEP and WAP encryption, and VPN pass-through, but it lacks MAC address filtering. (Note: The HTML app may not render properly on older browsers, so if you see only one or two functions, install a newer version of your browser.)

The Belkin Travel Router's performance of 17.8Mbps at a 10-foot range, although not spectacular, is certainly good enough for its intended use in hotel suites and boardrooms. In our tests, it clocked 14.3Mbps in a mixed 802.11b/g environment and 5.8Mbps at 200 feet, putting it behind both the 3Com Travel Router and the Apple AirPort Express, both of which cost a good deal more than the Belkin. If we had any complaint at all about the router's operation, it's that it runs a bit warm. That's not surprising given the unit's diminutive size and corresponding lack of interior space. We also might trade a bit of size for hardwired Ethernet ports and the corollary supersecure connections.

CNET Labs maximum throughput tests
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CNET Labs maximum throughput tests with mixed 802.11b/g and MIMO clients
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CNET Labs long-range tests
(Throughput in Mbps measured indoors at 200 feet)
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And now for something completely different: Belkin offers a lifetime warranty and toll-free 24-hour technical support for the Travel Router. The excellent setup sheet and PDF docs should alleviate the need to call in most cases, and online support includes e-mail to a technical assistant and downloadable manuals for those who prefer that route.