It's inevitable that networking vendors always release a broadband router first and then make everyone wait for a version with an integral ADSL modem. So it is with Belkin's latest N1 Vision (the F5D8632UK4A) as we looked at the version with an Ethernet WAN port quite a few months ago and it's only now that the Wireless Modem Router makes its way on to the market.
Is the wait worthwhile? You bet, as the N1 Vision is the swankiest looking ADSL router on the market. Belkin moved the design bar up quite a few notches when it released the first model as its cool black fascia really does need to be on display where it can't be missed. In fact, the gloss black colour scheme is proving such a hit that even Netgear has followed suit with its dual-band RangeMax WNDR3300 which has ditched the trademark clinical white boxes in favour of the same finish.
The front panel incorporates a large backlit LCD display that can be controlled via a rubberised key pad alongside. The display opens with a line of icons showing the status of the Internet connection, the wireless network status, whether security is enabled and reveals if any wired and wireless systems are connected. Using the buttons you can scroll through displaying a single speedometer showing download speeds or move on to another which has an extra dial for upload speeds.
Next up is a view of all connected clients and their current Internet usage whilst the next shows their bandwidth consumption for the past 24 hours. Having used the original N1 Vision for a while now we find the wireless connection icon really useful as we can see at a glance if any clients are using these services. For the price you'd expect Gigabit Ethernet and you won't be disappointed as the N1 has a high-speed four-port switch and the wireless-N access point is Draft 2.0 compliant.
For installation Belkin prefers you not to use the CD-ROM. Instead you follow the wiring instructions in the quick start guide, power the router up and open a web browser. It's supposed to go straight to the router's home page but although this didn't work for us, entering ‘routersetup' as the URL did. A wizard then takes you through setting the country, choosing an ISP from a drop-down list and entering your account details. Our BT Broadband connection was listed so we were up and running in a matter of minutes.