N1 Vision Wireless Router
Type: Internet, Network, Peripheral, Wi-Fi/Wireless
Usage: PlayStation 3, Wii, Windows PC, Xbox 360
N1 Vision Wireless Router
Cold hard truth: Routers sort of suck. A decent one will run you upwards of a hundred bucks, will be tricky to configure, and ugly to look at. Plus, it won't provide any tangible satisfaction; nothing that you can see or hear or feel when it's in use. Like a modem or set-top cable box, a router is essentially infrastructure; an essential piece of gear the presence of which is more or less unnoticeable, save when it's malfunctioning.
Belkin is changing all that with the sexy N1 Vision, a wireless router with a sleek piano black finish designed to reduce your reluctance to place it out in the open, which, obviously, is where you want it to be to deliver best performance. Plus, it has a backlit LCD readout that turns the N1 Vision into a device that you can actually interact with on a regular basis. Not only does the display let you set up the router without going through tedious PC-based configuration protocols, it also shows all sorts of useful data, including a speedometer that displays current download and upload rates and a 24-hour usage summary for all wireless and wired connected devices (handy for keeping tabs on how much media your kids/spouses are downloading). You might even find yourself walking over to the router and scrolling through its readouts several times per day, so effortlessly informative that it is.
Another handy feature is the ability to set up a guest network designed to allow visitors easy wireless access to the Internet while keeping your home network machines off limits. The guest network name and password can be manually set and easily found by navigating to the appropriate screen on the LCD.
And, of course, it's got all of the specs you'd expect in a high-end home router, including support for Wireless-N (that's in addition to 802.11 a/b/g), 128-bit encryption, and an outdoor tested range of up to 1400 feet (over 400 meters).
The only problem you might discover is the unit's occasional propensity to lock up -- at least that's what it did a few times over the course of three weeks of testing. Such interruptions in operation are fixed easily enough -- simply unplug the router for a few seconds and it works fine again after rebooting --, but technical nuisances like that ought not be suffered in modern networking gear.
The N1 Vision is one of the pricier home wireless routers on the market, but it's also among the most stylish and functional; well worth the extra cash.
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