One of the first things that struck us about Belkin’s Play Max router was its package design. Each part is clearly labelled with the corresponding step in the setup guide, and the power and phone connectors come plugged into the right spots on the router.
The instructions for setup are incredibly easy to follow. One nice touch is that the router comes with Wireless security pre-enabled, together with a card that has the login, SSID and password. It also has a guest account that allows for internet access but not network access – great for visitors.
Access to the router configuration is via a web browser, and options are extensive. There are wizards for those who aren’t too confident with network settings and manual settings pages for those who want to tweak. The router control page also accesses Belkin’s ‘Apps’ for extra features such as Quality of Service (QoS), the ability to attach an external hard drive for Bittorrent downloads or automated backups.
Configuration is straightforward; it took us a minute or so to get the router connecting to our ISP via PPPoA.
Using the supplied password made setting up wireless devices a smooth process, and the router also includes WPS to pair wireless devices just by pushing a button on the front. Considering that setup is a nightmare on some brands of router, this smooth approach is fantastic.
The dual-band Wireless-N covers the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. This is handy in areas where interference is an issue.
Performance of the wireless is decent. Over a short range the Play Max attain transmit speeds of 98 Mbits/sec over 2.4GHz and 103 Mbits/sec over 5Ghz. At long range this drops to 51Mbits/sec over 5GHz and 37Mbit/sec over 2.4GHz.
While these aren’t the fastest speeds recorded in the PC Authority labs, they are similar to the current A-List model Draytek Vigor 2110n and preceding Belkin Double N+ model.
Video streaming was excellent, with 12Mbit/s HD video streaming smoothly even when 25 metres from the router.
Belkin’s Play Max is its premium model of wireless modem-router, but you can also get a plain router for $240.
Overall, the Play Max doesn’t disappoint. With good performance over both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless bands, Gigabit Ethernet ports for a fast backbone and an easily-configured ADSL 2+ modem, it packs the fastest possible technology. The icing on the cake is that it is both incredibly easy to set up and pre-configured to be secure.