Odds are that if you live in or around any metropolitan area in Australia, you have ADSL2+ internet at home. It's possible to buy a single, reasonably priced all-in-one modem router that handles anything that a regular family could want. Belkin's AC 1750 DB modem router is a simple, relatively powerful device aimed at anyone who isn't so interested in fiddling with network settings, but wants security and safety on their home network.
What Is It?
The Belkin AC 1750 DB is a $299.95 dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi modem router, with up to 1300Mbps transfer rates on its 5GHz and 450Mbps on its 2.4GHz Wi-Fi frequencies. It's a pretty physically simple device, designed to sit on a home office desk or under an office table, but this simple approach also means it can't be wall-mounted due to the fixed full-size stand; it does look relatively attractive for a router, and although that's not exactly high praise the glossy black monolith of the AC 1570 DB isn't as imposing as something like the Linksys WRT-1900AC.
There are no external antenna connectors on the AC 1750 DB; everything is internal to the router's long, slender chassis. The black gloss plastic shells on the Belkin's sides surround a thin matte silver plastic strip which has a blue power light and a single small WPS button at the front; there's also a series of holes for fanless convective cooling. Head around the back of this modem/router to find the real party -- four Gigabit Ethernet ports, a modem input Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, and power jacks.
This AC 1750 DB modem router is different from the $249.95 non-modem version in that Belkin bundles its Power Modem wall-wart DC power jack with the router; the little power plug contains the modem circuitry, into which you plug your phone line straight from its wall socket, then connect the Power Modem's wired Ethernet jack to the AC 1750 DB itself. It's an interesting approach -- add on a fancier power plug but retain the existing router to save dollars and add features -- but it's a smart one.
What Is It Good At?
Getting the Belkin AC 1750 DB up and running is a painless process. Belkin has always been a relatively simple, customer-focused brand and the setup procedure and general user interface both reflect that; you can set the AC 1750 DB up by connecting to it using the supplied, randomly generated Wi-Fi username and password details, upon which you're presented with a first-time setup guide that shuttles you through inputting your ADSL details, setting up a bespoke Wi-Fi network and the security associated with that, and so on. It's simple, painless, and worked the first time I tried -- which is more than I can say for some competitor brands.
When you're up and running, the AC 1750 DB's Web interface is basic but funnels you towards the features a regular home user -- particularly a parent looking to restrict their child's Internet access -- would want. There's a website filter that lets you blacklist particular domains that you might not want to allow access to, a list of the devices that are connected to the AC 1750 DB via either Wi-Fi or wired networking, restricted guest access, or media serving through the router's USB 3.0 port with a connected hard drive or flash drive.
The AC 1750DB produced good, although not stand-out or spectacular, results in my Wi-Fi transfer testing across its 802.11ac 5GHz, 802.11n 5GHz and 802.11n 2.4GHz dual-band frequency options. Beamforming increases the usable range of the Wi-Fi especially in the middle-distance transfer rates, and USB 3.0 transfer rates are decent enough to stream high-bitrate 1080p video wirelessly across your network to a connected Smart TV or mobile device -- although not as high as the best of the best.
Belkin AC 1750 DB: Performance
Wireless: 802.11ac, 2m: 83MBps 802.11ac, 10m: 81MBps 802.11ac, 15m: 54MBps 802.11n 5GHz, 2m: 45MBps 802.11n 5GHz, 10m: 41MBps 802.11n 5GHz, 15m: 38MBps 802.11n 2.4GHz, 2m: 44MBps 802.11n 2.4GHz, 10m: 44MBps 802.11n 2.4GHz, 15m: 35MBps USB 3.0: 1GB: 37MBps 5GB: 32MBps USB 2.0: 1GB: 24MBps 5GB: 24MBps
What Is It Not Good At?
It's disappointing to see that the AC 1750 DB has no Web-based management tools that let you access your router and manage features and functions when you're out of the house. It's not a feature that I find particularly important, and I don't think it's one that many regular home users would access often, but when competitors like Linksys (which Belkin owns) and ASUS have cloud controls it means the AC 1750 DB is somewhat behind the times.
The Norton by Symantec branding on the AC 1750 DB's filtering and network protection may sound grandiose, but it's no different to the features offered without the Norton name on competitor brands. Don't get me wrong, having these parental controls is only a good thing, and Belkin implements them well on this particular modem router, but don't be especially swayed by the Norton name and the fancy logo on the box.
While the AC 1750 DB's design is undoubtedly nice, it is slightly tall and a little restrictive. I tend to prefer low-slung routers like the WRT-1900AC purely because they put less strain on each network cable termination; it's a tiny criticism but if the stand was removable or even slightly less wide it would mean you could keep this little Belkin on its side and take up a little less space vertically (if that's what you want).
Should You Buy It?
If you want a future-proofed, all-in-one modem router for your family home, there's nothing stopping me from recommending the Belkin AC 1750 DB. It's fast when you're using its AC network, it's simple to set up, and once you're up and running it's entirely trouble-free -- there's no ongoing maintenance or adjustment needed. Straight out of the box, set up in a few minutes, then you never need to think about your wireless network or your Internet connection again. It's not an enthusiast device but it's capable enough for everything but the most demanding users.
You pay a slight premium over other brands, but the AC 1750 DB doesn't do anything that makes it not worth its asking price considering its high-end feature set. It even looks pretty nice. If you're in line for the NBN any time soon, and you want to upgrade to 802.11ac, consider the AC 1750 DB among your other choices.