Few developments in the world of wireless routers are exciting. Every once in a while we get a performance boost or a standards ratification, and the latest wireless router from Billion at first appears to follow this template.
It doesn’t look special with its regular, rectangular box shape, and three aerials at the back. But on the rear panel you’ll see something a little unusual: a USB socket. Not for connecting a printer or external storage – we’ve seen that trick in draft-n routers before – but for shared access to the internet via a USB mobile broadband dongle.
That might sound a bit pointless, given that the 7402NX already has an ADSL2/2+ modem built in, but if you rely on an always-on internet connection, it’s a godsend. If your ADSL connection goes down, it automatically switches over to the HSDPA connection. And if you need to move from either dial-up or cable broadband to standard ADSL, you can move over to mobile and ensure you’re not without internet for the period of the switchover.
Setup is fiddly – you need to supply the router with APN, username and password details – and the list of supported dongles isn’t comprehensive, but once you have it working it runs as smoothly as your network and dongle will allow.
There’s also a solid array of features, including four Gigabit ethernet sockets, secured VPN with support for up to 16 simultaneous tunnels, and usable web-based setup pages, although there are no luxury extras such as multiple SSIDs, guest modes or status screens. You get these with a Belkin N1 Vision
Performance is excellent. In direct back-to-back speed tests against the Linksys WAG160N
, we found this router to be faster, achieving solid file-transfer throughput of 36 to 44Mbits/sec in all our test locations, and an equally impressive 17Mbits/sec in our stress test, 40 metres from the house.
It’s a good performance, and we have no hesitation in recommending this router. We’d A List it, if not for the fact that our current A List models are considerably cheaper.The extra features, such as VPN and mobile broadband support may make it worth your money, though.