May 29, 2007

Belkin Wireless G + MIMO router

I bought one of these a short while ago -- I felt the need to try and improve wireless reception. My good-old LinkSys WRT54G has rarely produced a signal stronger than 60% percent and I could well feel the difference in speed between direct plug and wireless access to internet. Looking at the reviews of the product I assumed that it is the rigth thing for me, and on one of my trips to London I picked it up at Dixons or similar outlet for about GBP 60. After using it for a little while I can tell you that just like the force -- it has the bright side and a number of let downs.

The good

Signal quality is indeed higher. I am consistently getting in 70% or above range, sometimes close to 90%. Configuration is also very easy -- there are only 4-5 options to chose from that probably cover most use-cases.

The bad

Let me tell you that my provider does not like making its clients life easy. I am connected through what is called here as "local network" -- I get a 10.* address from a DHCP server and can browse the 'hood from there -- but to get out into wider 'Net I need to lginto a PPTP VPN, get another address assigned to me and only then would it work. WRT with OpenWRT running instead of the stock firmware had no trouble getting this setup -- the only issue was that my brain-dead provider has gone over 20 machines resolving to vpn server (I guess they did not want to do proper load balancing there) and uClib has started choking on that. I had to switch to opening VPN connection from my desktop machine, which is suboptimal, but works for now. Belkin device is incapale of such a feat. It can open up a PPTP connection, but not in the perverted manner required by my provider. Subsequently it is impossibe to do any such thing as setting time (router is stuck in 1970), properly upgrading firmware, etc. Not only that, but with WRT I am used to being able to assign IP addresses to client machines based on their wirelss MACs -- no such thing in G+MIMO either.

Conclusion

Belkin G+MIMO Router is a good thing for an average buyer -- the one that would not need to do any intermediate or advanced tweaking. It may also work out ok as either a plain AP or a wirelss net repeater -- although it's probably a bit pricey for the latter.

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