The first is the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 PCIe add-in card for desktops. The Second is the SuperSpeed 3.0 ExpressCard for laptops. Both add two USB 3.0 ports to existing hardware. And both, according to Belkin, pump data transfer speeds up to three times that of USB 2.0. (Which is a tad below USB 3.0’s theoretical upward limit of five times USB 2.0.)
Router manufacturers have a bad habit of assigning the same names to several different products, or completely changing a router’s underlying architecture and changing only the version number. Belkin has two routers it calls N Wireless (and a third called the N+ Wireless). For the record, we reviewed its model F5D8236-4.
The N Wireless is very short on features, but it turned in first- or second-place performances at four of our six test locations. It delivered TCP throughput of 76.2Mb/s with the client in the kitchen, 38.1Mb/s on the outdoor patio, and 20.3Mb/s in the double-walled media room. (Its throughput in the media room was two to five times faster than everything other than the D-Link DIR-615). Once we moved the client to our more distant outdoor locations, however, the router and client couldn’t maintain a connection at all.
With 802.11n Draft 2.0 routers becoming as common as Storm Troopers at Comic-Con, manufacturers need a feature that sets their product apart from the crowd. Like many of its competitors, Belkin added a second radio to its N+ Wireless Router—but this one is used for a very different purpose.
Rather than operating on a separate frequency (to separate audio and video streams from more mundane data), the second 2.4GHz radio on Belkin’s router establishes a guest network that limits clients to Internet access. Belkin’s web interface provides extremely limited access to this second radio’s settings: You can turn this radio on or off, change its SSID and passphrase, and choose between WPA/WPA2 pre-shared key or “Hotel Style” security.
Does your car have a USB port? Kick that nasty smoking habit and it just might. By freeing up your car's cigarette lighter, you can then shove Belkin's Micro Auto Charger into the socket and charge your BlackBerry, iPod, or other USB devices.
The Micro Auto Charger comes with a single 1-amp USB "quick-charge port for fastest possible charge" and sits nearly flush with the dashboard, Belkin says. For a little more jingle (and a lot less svelte), Belkin also offers the Dual Auto Charger, which tosses an extra 500mA USB port and USB-to-mini-USB cable into the mix.
You'll have to wait until next month for the Micro Auto Charger, which will sell for $15, or $20 if you want Belkin to include a iPode/iPhone cable. Those interested in the Dual Auto Charger can pick one up now for $30.
This happens to be the second instance of an anonymous Belkin employee accusing the company of unabashedly resorting to unscrupulous means to further its interests. Gizmodo had very recently published an email from an anonymous Belkin employee, who claimed that even Belkin’s employees maintain a safe distance from the company's products, including the free ones.
If you've ever wondered why user reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, it's because of incidents like this. Amazon operates a site called Mechanical Turk, which Amazon describes as "a marketplace for work that requires human intelligence." Thousands of low paying tasks are available for registered users to complete, such as transcribing audio, identifying objects in a photo or video, and other chores humans are still better at than computers. But it was never intended as an outlet for companies to solicit positive user reviews, and that's what a Belkin employee was caught doing.
According to an ad posted on the site, Michael Bayard, Business Development Representative at Belkin, offered to pay users 65 cents for each positive 5/5 review they posted, instructing them to "write as if you own the product and are using it." The ad even asks users to look for negative reviews and mark them as "not helpful."
It didn't take long for Belkin to catch wind of the situation and offer a statement denying knowledge of what was going on.
"It was with great surprise and dismay when we discovered that one of our employees may have posted a number of queries on the Amazon Mechanical Turk website inviting users to post positive reviews of Belkin products in exchange for payment," wrote Mark Reynoso, Belkin President. "Belkin does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this."
Reynoso goes on to say that this is an isolated incident and has worked with Amazon to remove all associated postings.
No matter how strong your cabling kung-fu might be, there's a pretty good chance that behind your home theater's assortment of receivers, set-top boxes, game consoles, and other electronic doodads sits a gnarly mess of wires. Most visitors never catch a glimpse of the clutter hidden behind your entertainment center, but you know it's there. Worse yet, you have to navigate through the wired jungle whenever you upgrade your A/V rack. You know that streaming Netflix player you're waiting to arrive from Roku? Get ready to wade through wires when it gets there.
Belkin believes it has a better way, and its FlyWire box looks poised to make cable clutter a thing of the past. Belkin's FlyWire HDMI box transmits both standard- and high-definition video anywhere in your home on the 5GHz band, and promises to penetrate through walls. And because FlyWire doesn't compress your video, Belkin claims its will even handle high definition gaming with aplomb. It even works with HDCP-compliant devices.
Look for FlyWire to spread its wings on retail shelves in October for $999 with IR backchannel capabilities, or $699 for an in-room solution sans IR.
Belkin’s N1 Vision takes user friendliness to a whole new level. This is the first router we’ve seen that offers extensive installation hand-holding right in the firmware—there’s no need to drop a CD in your drive.
Belkin’s N1 router looks gorgeous, and the company has put a lot of thought into making it easy for greenhorns to build a home network, but the N1 was the slowest in this field and it delivered very poor range.