Belkin is no stranger to networking peripherals and being a long time player in this field, have established themselves as one of the big players when it comes to wireless routers. Their earlier lineup of routers, especially the Play Max router failed to live up to its feature set which was disappointing since it had the potential to be a really good router. The company has since then done a major overhaul on their entire lineup and their 2012 lineup features sleeker and more streamlined designs with hopefully, better functionality. Today, we have the N600 DB, one of the cheapest dual-band routers you’ll find on the market so let’s see if it is every bit as good as it looks.
Design and Build
The N600 DB makes a very good first impression as it looks very striking and it won’t spoil the decor of your home, in fact, it will complement it well. It looks like a little alien pod with a glossy finish on either side and the desk stand. The router comes assembled and with the LAN cable plugged in so all you really have to do is plug in the power. The router cannot be mounted on a wall though, you have to use it placed upright on a surface. Just like their earlier models, there aren’t any external antennae but you do get four internal ones. As before, Belkin just uses a single LED in the front for power and some other states but there’s nothing for LAN like you see in most routers. The WPS buttons is placed upfront as well.
Belkin N600 DB
The rear of the router features a WAN port, four 10/100 LAN ports (not Gigabit), USB 2.0 port for connecting a printer or a hard drive to share videos, reset and finally, the power socket. That’s all there’s to it. The N600 DB is incredibly light and the stand gives it adequate support with four rubber feet planting it firmly on the surface. One thing missing is a physical power switch on the router. The N600 DB is built well and doesn’t have any creaking parts. The plastic used feels sturdy and seems like it will survive accidental drops.
Some of the new features of the N600 DB is their Multibeam antenna technology which is supposed to give you good coverage despite having all the antenna internally. It’s also a dual-band router which can work on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously. The USB ports lets you share files from a hard drive over a network.
All connectivity ports are placed at the back
The firmware also comes with four apps like Self-Healing, which automatically sorts out network issues. Print Zone lets you use a USB printer as a network printer.Video Mover lets you share video and other types of files through your home network.
The interface hasn’t changed from the old series and has the same look and feel. We hoped Belkin would have overhauled this as well but alas. The interface is quick to use and all the menu system is pretty straightforward. The first couple of options are your basic LAN, DHCP and SSID settings. Under wireless settings, you also have ‘Guest Mode’ which is handy if you don’t wish to share your primary Wi-Fi access. Under ‘Media Features’ we also have QoS where you can manage your bandwidth and decide which type of application gets how much bandwidth. The firewall section lets you add virtual servers and port forwarding. You can schedule the self-healing to maintain the network at times when you won’t be using the router. Updating the router's firmware is simple as it will tell you if there’s a new version available. After that, it’s all about going to the firmware update section, choosing the file and hitting update.
Same ol' boring interface
Belkin also supplies a software disk for PC and Mac to make it easier to manage the router. After installation, the icon appears in the system tray and lets you jump directly to the firmware page, setup the router, browse the contents of the USB drive or check for updates.
To test the transfer speeds of the router, we setup three different zones and copied a 200 MB (sequential and random) file from one laptop to another. The notebook was hard wired to the router, while the other, the MacBook Pro, was wireless. The good thing about the MacBook Pro is that it supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, so we could test the speeds on both.
Unfortunately, the 5GHz band refused to play nice after the firmware update and it wouldn’t show up in the list of available network connections in the MacBook Pro. We suspect it’s an issue with the firmware since before the update, the 5GHz band would show just fine. Even in the 2.4GHz band, the performance is good, but not as good as the Netgear WNDR 3800. This is especially apparent in the sequential data transfer tests. Then again, the Netgear is nearly twice the price as well so this difference is to be expected. The N600 DB handles portable hard drives just fine and with ‘Video Mover’ enabled, one can easily share data across the network.
The Belkin N600 DB is priced at Rs. 4,799 making it one of the cheapest dual-band routers in the market. This is also backed by good performance across both bands as, decently feature packed firmware and great design and build. Apart from a few niggles like the inability to mount it on the wall, no status lights for the LAN ports and no physical power switch, it’s a very good router for home or office use.
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Oct 24, 2016