Belkin N1 Vision, the wireless router is "cool" again

Remember the old days when wireless networks were few and far between? Since then, we have come a long way with commercial & personal networks overlapping and blanketing neighborhoods and city blocks. Although performance, reliability, and security have improved, hardware is still bulky, unattractive, and generally "unfriendly". Wireless hardware is the type of device that is unboxed, plugged in, connected, troubleshooted, and left underneath an office desk or atop a bedroom shelf [until the device needs tweaking]. There really is no reason to keep a wireless router in plain view. Browse the wireless section at your nearest electronics store and you’ll see the same square boxes with an antennae or two sticking out the backside.

Belkin introduces the N1 Vision

Package (front)

Belkin recently launched the N1 Vision ($199) which offers a built-in display for broadband network speed, upload & download speed, individual computer bandwidth usage, connected devices, total data usage over a 24 hour period, devices accessing the network as guests, and a general clock / date.

Packaged in a new sleek and sophisticated design, N1 Vision offers the best in networking performance with its wireless 802.11n* 3×3 radio design and wired gigabit ports. The N1 Vision wireless router continues Belkin’s commitment in providing the best user experience in the home market through its Plug-and-Play “CD-less” installation and simple network security setup. [source]

My N1 Vision arrived earlier this week and gave me plenty of time to experience the setup, test performance, and share my thoughts concerning a $199 802.11n router.

Apple sets the packaging standard, Belkin takes a hint

Like many other companies, Belkin picked-up on a few hints from Apple and their attention to packaging detail. See Apple, Jawbone, and Belkin below:

Mini + ACD

Wrapper off

No styrofoam

Clean and organized packaging really does translate into an easier unboxing and setup experience. The numerical hints which adorn the small boxed items match the numerical order of steps found in the quick start guide & on the back of the router itself.

Simple setup

N1 ports

N1 Vision; a "friendly" router installation

Setting up the router is as simple as plugging in the power adapter (wall-to-unit), connecting the ethernet cable (modem-to-router), hard wiring a computer (initial setup), and typing "routersetup" in your favorite browser. From here, the installation is quick and easily completed within a minute or two.

belkin-n1-setup.jpg

Simple management

Opening "routersetup" in your default browser begins the setup process for entering your network name (SSID), security key (default security type is WPA + WPA2 PSK), guest mode (disabled by default), and a guest security key. Click apply and the router is provisioned and restarted.

belkin-n1-setup-complete.jpg

Once the router saves your initial settings, your setup is complete. Disconnect your computer from the router and search for your new wireless network to connect.

N1 Vision Admin

Belkin N1 Vision setup screen – click for high resolution screenshot.

N1 Vision display is not gimmicky

An auxiliary wireless router display may seem gimmicky considering the router serves a single purpose of sharing your internet connection. However, after a week of use, the router display has proven itself as a great resource for diagnosing your wireless network performance.

  • The ISP is currently down, N1 Vision makes this known by overriding the current view with a status message notifying you of connectivity issues.
  • Want to know who is on your network? Browse through a list of connected users.
  • Curious to know why your network is feeling sluggish? Find out who is moving the most data right now.
  • Wow your guests and showcase your geekiness.

Things I like, and a few I don’t

Likes

  • Excellent network coverage – up to 1600 ft. With the router setup in my apartment, I can access the network from one of my favorite sushi spots up the street.
  • Auxiliary display which lets me see how much data is moving in and out while sitting back watching television.
  • The router is appealing enough to keep in plain view – looks right at home with the glossy finish of the Toshiba Regza LCD.
  • Gigabit – need I see more? Four ports to share the data between XBox, Mac Mini, and networked media server.

Dislikes

  • The N1 Vision arrived factory sealed but has some serious spider scratches over the entire finish – bad quality inspection.
  • Buttons to navigate the different display views require a very firm press. Buttons click but often do not respond unless firmly pressed for 1-2 secs.
  • Entering "routersetup" from any networked machines does not open the router admin panel – the usual 192.168.x.1 does the trick.

Overall, I am a huge fan of the router which offers a huge set of security options and wireless configurations. Guest access mode is great, but not something I see myself enabling. Prior to the N1 Vision, I was using the the Kyocera KR1 router + Sprint’s EVDO network as my main connection. The addition of the auxiliary display gives me a heads-up on network activity while providing a little extra juice for moving data on my local network. [Digg this]

* Belkin N1 Vision unboxing pictures on Flickr.

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Discuss - 87 Comments

  1. CM says:

    Music lover you did not have the problem because they just released the firmware that so many of us were trying to get to fix vpn problem. .11 will not work you need .11a and now of course the posted .13 which is just a prerelease of the beta .11a. I emailed I called I did everything for a few weeks trying to get help from belkin even when I directly asked for the firmware from them they did not know how to get it.

    I might add all the tech support and call backs were from the outsorced india. Finally a week ago, after I got it fixed of course, the us support from belkin called me and told me I need firmware update to fix problem and it would be released soon. Still no offer to send the firmware or web addy to download it. Just a hang tight and it will be fixed. I of course told him I had it fixed with the .11a firmware and they could close the ticket. He just ask where I got that firmware and I said the net.

    I can only imagine how much support dollars belkin has wasted with this vpn issue when all they had to do was put in a support script the told they were working on a fix for the vpn issue and to keep checking.

    Would of save me and belkin many wasted hours on the phone trying everything to get vpn working.

    With that belkin tech support needs to be given a bad rating and not the router itself.

  2. John says:

    Hi guys – same issue here, love the router, can’t VPN using the Cisco VPN – I unplug this router and plug in the previous Belkin N router and connects fine – I tried the UK firmware (.11 I think) and not only did it not fix the VPN issue it then kept my Xbox from connecting… wtf?? can someone tell me which firmware resolves the Cisco VPN issue as all I can get from support is ‘you need to open the ports’ – which no ca do as we use dynamic tunnelling and IPSEC. thasnk, this was the only place I got any good info, you guys rock – juantana”at” hotmail”dot” com

  3. Geoff says:

    Thanks for the link to the pre-release firmware 1.00.13. This fixed my VPN issue I had. I’m using a Cisco VPN client.

  4. Craig says:

    I think Belkin might have a few loose electrons …

    If you take a look at this web page of their UK site …

    http://www.belkin.com/uk/support/article/?lid=enu&pid=F5D8232uk4&aid=9278&scid=282

    You’ll see references to two firware revisions. The chronologically latest one is the one with the lower version number.

    If you look at the US site …

    http://www.belkin.com/support/article/?lid=en&pid=F5D8232-4&aid=9060&scid=854

    You’ll see the release date for version 1.00.08 is the same as version 1.00.11.

    WTF?

  5. Marc says:

    The 1.00.13 beta firmware worked perfectly for my Nortel VPN problem.

  6. CM says:

    F5D8232-4_WW_1.00.11a is the us version beta formware that fixex the vpn issues. It is not available on a website. The uk .13 works also but not sure if it creates other problems. If you need the firmware drop me a email. benzjon@yahoo.com

  7. Brian says:

    Does 1.00.13 fix the problem where Xbox 360 wireless adapter cannot find this router?

  8. CM says:

    The update has nothing to do with wireless. You must have another problem. Try changing to g/b mode only.

  9. Svennito says:

    Thank you,
    .13 fixed my Nortel VPN problem

  10. Tricsio says:

    Not claiming to an expert but from the experience I had with this, you first have to install firmware F5D8232-4_WW_1.00.11a then upgrade to 1.00.13. Don’t forget to backup your settings first. Good luck

  11. Jarvis says:

    Thank you for everybody’s posts. Only website I can find with any decent help on it. The Links on Craig’s post on the 7th April take you to the correct place to get your beta firmware. Version 1.00.15 now available.

    Oddly I only came across this problem once I had upgraded to Vista, Had been using VPN over the Belkin N1 Vision router quite happily with XP. Only problem now is I can’t find my token to login.

    Thanks again.

  12. Tony Jacob says:

    The “trick” to the buttons is this:

    1. Place finger in center of area of button you wish to operate.

    2. Push button, harder and harder, until it clicks.

    3. Push button approximately 50% harder than you currently are. Essentially, IGNORE THE CLICK (as any indication that the button has been pressed correctly).

    4. Release the button, no need to hold it.

    The total ‘button pressing time’ is about 3/4 second when you get used to it..

    There is a SECRET menu (on the web configurer) that has the button on it, you can click these with the mouse. Use you Google skills to find out this info – ALL EMAILS IGNORED!

  13. BigT says:

    Im not a whizz with this but i picked one up and its rubbish, either that or i havent mastered the ‘easy-to-use’ side of it?!

    It keeps dropping the connection even though it says signal strength is excellent. No firmware updates available either, im pretty disappointed. Have a laptop and a desktop. None are wired but with this peice of kit i should be ok, no?

    I even bought the N1 usb adapter that goes with this, disabled my network adapters and stuck with that. still drops the connection, if i disconnect then reconnect it works but i have to to do this at least once every five minutes.

    Can anyone advise?

  14. SmoothSimian says:

    BigT

    Had same issue, spent half a day with belkin support and then they told me to replace it. on route to the store will let you know…

  15. Juice says:

    Can anyone help me fix my Belkin N+ Wireless Modem Router? I need a fix in order to get it to work with my VPN (windows) and in order to use the USB connector for my external hard drive. Hard drive doesn’t show at present and until Belkin release a fix, I’m connecting via a Draytek Vigor 2800 router. I live in the UK and use BT for services. Thanks.

  16. Juice says:

    Received assistance from third party. Thanks.

  17. Willy Brown Balls says:

    This router is a joke. Bought one last week and sent it back today. Avoid at all costs

  18. TexAussie says:

    Hi I have read the posts above and have the same issue — can’t access my Cisco VPN — and the IT guys at the office couldn’t make it work either. Guess I need the firmware alluded to in the 2008 posts. I just got my router 3 months ago in 2009 so guess they do not ship with new firmware?

    Anyway — what is the best way to fix it quickly? Thank you in advance

  19. Roger Pearson says:

    Hi TexAussie,
    I got the same problem with my router purchased 27th December 2009.
    The CISCO VPN just does not work.

    I upgraded the firmware to version 1.00.09 (The pre-release version)
    Version 1.00.06 shipped with the router!!!

    Belkin need to get their act together on this one.
    There should be a new version released so the Automatic upgrade picks it up to correct this issue.!!

    Upgrade and it definately works !!

    • ash says:

      I have found that this works, but then my DHCP has issues for some reason.

      so it’s a pain I have to upgrade my router to use the VPN then downgrade for my other comptuers to be able to use the internet again….

      something seriously wrong with this router that Belkin need to sort out.

      btw another issues is it keeps “overheating” so it drops the network connection and you can’t connect to the router without powercycling it… why???????????

  20. bella says:

    hi guys xbox 360 conection enternet works?