PROS / Mounting base for convenience and reduced radio interference.
CONS / Lacks 5GHz band connectivity. Not compatible with Windows 7 or Mac.
VERDICT / Good choice in wireless adapters unless streaming graphics intensive apps is needed.
The Belkin Wireless N+ wireless network adapter can be used to add high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity to any desktop or laptop PC that doesn’t have the capability built in. It’s also a good option for upgrading the wireless capabilities of a computer that already has Wi-Fi but is using a previous standard. To compare this device to other highly rated products in the category, refer to our wireless adapter review site.
Data Transfer Performance
The wireless n standard which is employed by the Belkin N+ offers far greater performance than previous Wi-Fi devices on a number of fronts. Data transfer speeds can theoretically reach 300Mbps, a figure that rivals many wired Ethernet connections. Admittedly, that figure is very dependent on environmental factors and network traffic but real life performance is still notably better that before.
Inevitably, radio signals to and from the adapter bounce off furniture, walls and other obstacles. Previously, those random signals confused the Wi-Fi network, creating dead spots and reducing range. Now with Multiple-input/Multiple-output (MIMO), smart technology, those signals are exploited in such a way that they nearly eliminate dead spots and put an entire typical home within range.
Users of the adapter can prioritize various types of network traffic so that the most time sensitive information gets through without interruption from lower-priority data.
As a single band device operating in the 2.4GHz range, there are some notable drawbacks when compared to a dual band adapter that also uses the 5GHz range. Numerous products, including those that use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technologies transmit in the 2.4GHz range so interference is a possibility. Even remote controlled toys and household appliances have the potential for interrupting this data. That possibility is virtually eliminated in the 5GHz range.
The 2.4GHz range is also less suited to transmitting high bandwidth data that is required for streaming HD entertainment content, extreme gaming and VoIP telephone and video calls.
The Wi-Fi n standard uses a number of protocols to keep data secure and to prevent unauthorized access to the network. The first generation Wired Equivalent Privacy, WEP, system is still in use. Though it remains useful, it isn’t very difficult to hack, and it shouldn’t be used alone to protect sensitive data. WPA, Wi-Fi Protected Access and its successor, WPA2, are also employed to add far more effective layers of protection. WPA2 especially, with its Advanced Encryption Standard, provides a very secure environment for even the most important information. AES is widely used by governments and major corporations to protect their networks and, to date, there is no record of it having been cracked.
Ease of Use
A standout feature of the Wireless N+ is its USB extension cable and mounting stand. The stand makes connection to a computer easier, especially if connected to the rear of a desktop where access is rather limited. More importantly, it allows the adapter to be placed in the most favorable location for optimizing radio signals.
An installation CD is included, and contains all of the software that is required to use the adapter. Wireless Protection Setup (WPS), is an included feature. With it, pairing the adapter to a compatible router requires nothing more than the push of a button on each device.
Help & Support
Numerous customer support options are offered by Belkin. We particularly like the availability of 24/7 live chat. Questions can also be asked by email or a toll-free telephone number. Their web site includes an extensive knowledge base and FAQ section, as well as helpful tutorials for trouble shooting, setup and operation.
We were pretty impressed that the product is covered by a limited lifetime warranty.
The only reason not to select the Belkin Wireless N+ adapter is the absence of the 5GHz radio band. It can be important for some users; however, if your router doesn’t support it either, or if your expected usage doesn’t include requirements for streaming video or extreme gaming, this adapter could be a good choice.