Belkin has taken a leaf out of Apple’s book as far as packaging is concerned, shipping the N1 Vision in a container that provides a excellent box-opening experience.
Trouble is, that comes at the expense of roughly doubling the weight of cardboard compared with the more industrial packaging used by some of the other products we tested.
The product styling is also unusual. The body is vertically mounted on a fixed foot, with a front panel that vaguely resembles a micro audio system. Used in conjunction with the six buttons, the display can reveal the state of the router or change various settings such as switching off the Wi-Fi transceiver. As a power saving measure, the display can be set to go dark after a couple of minutes of inactivity.
The setup wizard can be run within the router’s web interface (simply by typing ‘routersetup’ into the browser’s address bar) or as a desktop application (Windows or Mac). Providing you’re able to follow the simple installation instructions, the web version is probably the way to go. That said, the setup application does include a security assistant.
The router’s web interface is well organised, and the ‘more info’ links present worthwhile information in a separate window.
Guest access is a useful feature that allows you to provide visitors with an Internet connection yet does not give them access to the rest of your network. To keep things simple, the guest key can be displayed on the N1 Vision’s screen.
There’s no provision for URL or keyword filtering, if that’s important to you. But you can set up rules to block computers (specified by IP address ranges) from accessing particular ports either permanently or according to a timetable, even though that is a relatively blunt weapon against misuse.
The short-range performance was decent rather than exciting (18 seconds), but there was less drop-off between the ‘next room’ and ‘long distance’ tests than with the other routers we tested. The average times were 36 and 37 seconds, respectively.
If nothing else, that should at least eliminate complaints from people sitting further away from the router that they’re disadvantaged relative to their colleagues.