It's easy to set up and use the Belkin Double N+ Wireless Router, but its interface is slow and unresponsive at times and its physical design could be better, too.

The Belkin Double N+ has two external antennas, a front panel that can almost light up a room (luckily you can dim the lights), and it has a built-in stand that prevents you from put it down flat or wall-mounting it - we'd prefer a removable stand. The rear has a WAN port, four Ethernet ports, and there is a USB port that can accommodate an external hard drive or USB key.

Belkin Double N+ setup

Setting up the Belkin Double N+ Wireless Router is a relatively painless task: all you have to do is plug in your modem (if you're using a modem with its own built-in router, then be sure to switch off the router function or set the modem to bridged mode) and feed the router your ISP login details. There is no connect/disconnect button, which is annoying, but as long as the login details are correct and there is nothing wrong with your line, the router will always automatically connect within a few seconds.

Setting up the wireless networks is a little tedious, as you have to click on four separate pages in order to set up both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz SSIDs and their respective security details. WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) is supported via a physical button on the front of the panel and it works for both frequencies. This can make wireless set up a more straightforward task if your network adapters support WPS, either via a physical button or PIN.

Faster wireless networking using 5GHz

Dual-band routers (such as Netgear's WNDR3700 and Linksys' WRT610N) haven't taken the world by storm yet, primarily because you need to spend more money upgrading your network. However, there is a need for them, especially if you live in an area that already has plenty of 2.4GHz traffic flying around; it can give your devices a clearer path and therefore provide better speed.

The dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz operation is useful if you want a dedicated radio band for certain computers and media devices on your network, although you will need computers and devices that have a 5GHz radio as well. For example, you could stream a video to your PS3 using the 2.4GHz network, while using the 5GHz network to conduct other file transfers between your computers.

Each network will be separate and unaffected by the other's traffic. Whether you are using the 2.4GHz radio to stream data or not, the data rate on the 5GHz network will not be affected.

This was shown during our tests, in which we were able to transfer files across the 5GHz network at a rate of 7.47 megabytes per second (MBps) whether or not the 2.4GHz network was being used. The same file transfer on the 2.4GHz network averaged 5.96MBps, so you are better off using the 5GHz network for streaming and gaming where possible. It will likely be exposed to less interference and therefore run quicker. It will also give you faster throughput across longer distances: from 15m away, the 2.4GHz network averaged 3.37MBps whereas the 5GHz network averaged 5.61MBps.

You can get a Belkin USB adaptor such as the Double N+ USB adaptor to plug in to your notebook or PC if your computer doesn't already support both bands. If you have an Xbox 360, then you can use Microsoft's Xbox 360 Wireless N Networking Adaptor to take advantage of the router's 5GHz capability. If you own a PlayStation 3, you can connect it via Ethernet to a 5GHz-enabled gaming adaptor such as the Linksys WGA600N.