When Belkin launched its glossy black Vision broadband routers it set a design standard that much of the competition followed as black was suddenly very much in vogue. Its latest N+ Wireless Modem Router, the F5D8635UK4A, keeps to the same colour scheme but goes all matte on us and loses the distinctive LCD display panel as well.
At the rear you have four Ethernet LAN ports but unlike the N+ Wireless Router model these are not the Gigabit variety. The N+ incorporates an ADSL modem and you also get a Draft 2.0 compliant 802.11n single band wireless access point. The USB port adds some useful storage related features as you can connect a memory stick or an external storage device and share its contents over the network.
There are still plenty of visual cues to operations as the router has a strip of bright blue icons running up the front panel that show the status of the ADSL link, the Internet connection, the attached storage device, WLAN, wireless security and LAN ports. Errors or problems with any component are highlighted by the relevant icon turning amber.
Note that only one indicator is provided for the Ethernet switch so you can't see which ports have devices attached to them. At the top is a speedometer made up of five LEDs that shows the current download speed relative to the fastest speed the router has measured since activation.
Belkin takes ease of installation very seriously so the CD-ROM has a handy Setup Assistant utility that steps through setting the N+ up and getting you on-line with the minimum of fuss. Belkin also gets a pat on the back for its Security Assistant which guides you through configuring essential wireless security. The router had no problems with our BT Business Broadband connection and we were up and away in a few minutes.
The web interface is pretty much the same as offered by Belkin's N1 Vision products and is consequently easy enough to navigate. Usefully, you can elect to have the router automatically check Belkin's website for firmware upgrades when you login and advise you if any new updates are available. It won't be much but you can also do your bit for the environment as the Eco mode can be used to set up daily schedules that will turn the wireless access point off and on and dim the status icons.