Belkin's Router Shows All
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While most wireless router vendors settle for upgrading their chips and maybe improving their Web-based interface, Belkin is one of the few going the extra mile to give its users an easy to understand interface right on the hardware.
Its first N1 router had a set of LED lights on the front to indicate with easy to understand icons the status of the Internet connection, the wireless security, and the wired and wireless connections. Now, the new N1 Vision, announced today, goes for something completely new, building in an Interactive Network Display that indicates network activity. The display includes a gauge showing current download speed in Megabits per second (Mbps), a list of what computers are connected to the router, how much bandwidth each computer is using, and a warning if the router is disconnected from the Internet. You can also just use it as a digital clock. The display is controlled by a four-point toggle switch on the front. You can see a flash-based demo of the interface online.
The unit stands up, rather than sitting flat like most routers, and has three antennas shooting out of the top for the 3x3 MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) support for 11n. It features four Gigabit LAN ports and full Wi-Fi security up to WPA2. Belkin also isnt pushing any software/wizard setup CD this time, touting the N1 Vision as having Plug-and-Play CD-less setup.
The N1 Vision supports 2.4 GHz, so its backward compatible with 802.11b/g (but not with 5 GHz 802.11a). It works with the other Belkin N1 line products, such as the wireless desktop card ($120), notebook card ($100) and USB adapter ($120). The router, model F5D8232-4, will sell for $200 and should ship later this month in the U.S., following soon in Asia, Europe and Australia.