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The current plethora of wireless networking standards is confusing enough and Belkin’s Wireless Pre-N Router muddies the water even further. Despite the suggestive brand name this access point doesn’t support the draft 802.11n high-speed wireless standard and will not be compatible with it when it is expected to be ratified late in 2006. What it does do is use a technology called MIMO (multiple input multiple output) that was developed by Airgo Networks in 2003 and which may form part of the 802.11n standard.
Whereas conventional access points use single antennae for sending and receiving wireless signals, MIMO uses multiple aerials – hence the triplet of antennae on the Pre-N. It increases performance by using the same wireless channels as conventional products but transmitting more streams of data down them. Hence a single 54Mbit/sec channel can have two streams running at this speed, but combined to produce 108Mbit/sec. MIMO also has to overcome the fact that multiple signals will get mixed up during transmission so it has the ability to recover them correctly at the receiving end. Naturally, this technology requires MIMO compatible products at both ends of the wireless connection and Belkin offers Pre-N wireless PC Cards and PCI adapters.
Anyway - enough about the router’s technology and more on its practical use. The router itself is well built and delivers a fine range of security features including a six month trial of parental web controls. It provides a four-port Fast Ethernet switch for PC connection but it doesn’t have a built in ADSL modem. Instead it provides a separate RJ-45 WAN port so you’ll need an additional ADSL modem with an Ethernet connection. Installation is very well handled as a wizard takes you through every stage from loading the software, connecting the router and gaining Internet and management access.
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