So I needed a new router at home, with decent wireless signal and the ability to stream media to my Xbox 360 and mobile devices. I came across the Belkin Play Max N600 HD for R1,699 which claimed to do everything I required.
The first thing you will notice is that it is quite large, however it has an aesthetically pleasing design and smooth curves which help offset this.
Setting up the router is super easy, the relevant cables even come already plugged in to the corresponding slots, talk about spoon feeding. It required me to add in my VPI and VCI numbers (Mweb is 8 and 35 respectively). I then entered in my ISP (Mweb) username and password and it was sorted.
The router provides dual band wireless with both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz simultaneously, which is great as not all devices support 5Ghz and it gives you the option to use which works best for your setup. The addition of a guest network/login is also great (prompts users to login via a webpage), if you have a small office or something like that. I am using it at home and so don’t really have a need for a guest login.
The Belkin Play Max N600 HD comes with a bunch of bundled apps and tools which actually add value. Take the USB hard drive integration as an example. When you plug a memory stick in, it’s automatically mapped to a drive letter in Windows Explorer. This drive is then accessible over your wireless network, allowing media streaming to various devices. I hooked this up with to stream video through to my Xbox 360. There is one key thing to note here, the Play Max only works with hard drive 1TB or smaller, which I found out the hard way when it failed to detect my 3TB drive. I have confirmed with Belkin support that they do not support hard drives over 1TB.
You also get a copy of the Vuze Bittorrent client, along with a plug-in that lets you use an attached USB drive to continue downloading even when your PC is switched off. This is really handy if you are downloading large files overnight or when you are away from home. There are also a couple of other featured apps such as Daily DJ (creates personalised daily playlists from your music library), Music Labeler (scans and labels unidentified songs in your library) and BitBoost (lets you easily select and prioritize your most important data streams).
As well as these fancy features, the N600 supports all the bells and whistles that advanced users might ask for, such as a guest wireless network, QoS, a DMZ and Dynamic DNS. The interface is clear, with a well-organised menu on the left and help pages that include a glossary. Some terms also have a handy More Info link right next to them.
In summary the Belkin Play Max N600 ND is a decent all round router that provides a good media streaming solution for your home.