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The Belkin Play Max’s claim to fame was a fat set of hardware features and a generous collection of apps that ran not on the router but on client PCs connected to the router. In relaunching the Play Max as the Play N600 HD, Belkin has kept all the hardware features but axed three of the apps (the music library tool Daily DJ, the backup utility Memory Safe, and the MP3 tagger Music Labeler).
No big loss, as far as we’re concerned; we’re far more interested in the hardware. Like its predecessor, the Play N600 HD features two wireless radios, so you can operate distinct networks on the 2.4- and 5GHz bands, plus a second guest network (on the 2.4GHz band only) that provides Internet access while isolating visitors from your LAN. You’ll also find two USB ports, so you can share both a mass storage device and a printer across your network (but not with clients on the guest network).
The Play N600 HD’s wireless routing performance using the 2.4GHz band was distinctly middle of the road, placing third in two of our test locations and tying for third in another. On the other hand, it managed a relatively strong second-place performance in our challenging media-room test. Performance on the 5GHz band was roughly the same, except that it couldn’t penetrate our double-walled media room at all.
Belkin includes a BitTorrent client that’s useful for finishing Torrent downloads without tying up a host PC; but as you can see from our benchmark charts, the router’s NAS performance is abysmal.
Guest network; two USB ports; BitTorrent client, good range on the 2.4GHz band.
Slug-slow NAS performance; DLNA-compliant media server runs on a host PC, not the router.
|Bedroom, 10ft (Mb/s) ||53.2 ||70.6|
|Kitchen, 20ft (Mb/s) ||60.9 ||34.5|
|Enclosed Patio, 38ft (Mb/s) ||32.9 ||32.5|
|Bedroom 2, 60ft (Mb/s)||25.5||28.1|
|Media Room, 35ft (Mb/s) ||18.5 ||N/C|
|Outdoors, 85ft (Mb/s) ||3.1 ||N/C|
|Belkin Play N600 HD|
|Radio Frequencies ||Dual band: 2.4GHz and 5GHz|
|Guest Network ||On the 2.4GHz band only|
|DLNA-Compliant Media Server ||Running on a host PC only|
|USB Ports ||Two (for printer and/or storage)|
|NTFS Drive Support ||Yes|
|WDS Bridge/Repeater Support ||No|
|Large File Write (min:sec) ||22:23|
|Small Files Write (min:sec) ||9:42|
|Large File Read (min:sec) ||23:36|
|Small Files Read (min:sec) ||5:36|