Belkin Play Max Router - Performance and Verdict Review

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Where the Play Max triumphs over models lower down the range is its provision of a built-in torrent client that will keep on downloading to any attached storage device while your PC is turned off. But, annoyingly, you do have to start these from your compute. We found ourselves longing for a web interface more often than we considered starting any downloads.

USB transfer speeds, however, were pretty poor, reading and writing at close to 2MB/s. Luckily for Belkin, its decision to require its monitor utility to be running in order to be able to access an attached USB drive means you’ll likely never bother anyway.


At least setting up a DSL connection is simple enough. You’ll have to get the appropriate details from your ISP – unlike other routers which auto-configure this stuff – but as long as you don’t bother wondering what a VCI number is, or why it has to be 101 and not 38, it’s hard to go wrong.

In the plus column goes the dual-band nature of the Play Max router. The device’s 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels can be labelled and passworded separately. The number of devices that can connect to a 5GHz network may be limited compared to the more common 2.4GHz standard, but if you’re a “have” rather than a “have not” you’ll appreciate the improvements in range and transfer speed that result from the more penetrative higher frequencies.

Transfer speeds up close hit an impressive 54Mb/s, dropping to a still-impressive 46Mb/s out in our garden, some 30 metres away. More subjectively, still able to use an iPad while sitting in our car, over 50 metres away, without any noticeable effect on the speed with which pages loaded in Safari.


That matches up with the Belkin N+, which at £50 or so is the better buy if you’re just after 802.11n Wi-Fi; which is probably the case for most everyone. Its only weakness is the lack of Gigabit Ethernet, but for the money it’s easy to forgive.

Verdict


The Belkin Play Max doesn’t disappoint with its performance as a router. However, the bundled apps, which are required to access its additional features, are a massive annoyance, to the extent that most users are likely to abandon them altogether.

Score


Score in detail

  • Value 7
  • Features 7