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BT‘s previous Home Hub, it must be said, had many flaws. The styling was off, the box was too big and for Vista users just getting on the internet was a Herculean task. So will the new Home Hub 2.0 fare better?

The
new router is a lot smaller than the previous iteration. We would say
around half the size (no we didn’t bother with the tape measure). It
promises 802.11n connectivity (this is draft N by the way), a
power-saving mode (to please eco-botherers), simpler software, more
Ethernet ports and better security and access controls.

Setting
up the hub is easy enough, especially when BT insists on sending over
one of its top engineers over to install it for you. But we did watch
them attentively and from what we discern, if we were to do it
ourselves it wouldn’t take too much effort. The device seems to log
itself onto the BT network relatively fast.

{mospagebreak}One thing that the
engineer did do was install a "broadband accelerator", which is
supposed to boost download speed by around half a meg. This was
something that looked like the engineer needed to do as it looked like
he was taken the fascia off the phone socket and replacing it with
something else that protruded a little more than the standard telephone
socket.

As we already had the previous Home Hub installed, we
didn’t need to bother with rewire the connection to our BT Vision box
(see review of BT Vision television service). Around the back, however
we noticed that the router had now got four Ethernet ports. From what
we gather, all of these ports will work properly with the BT Vision box
(previously we had to plug it into a specific port in order for
pay-per-view videos to run without stuttering).

There are also
USB connections, so that you can plug in printers and maybe even an
external hard drive (something we haven’t tested  but from what we have
found on the internet is entirely possible to do).

The box
itself does look a lot better than the previous attempt (which Mrs.
Gadget roundly despised). The accompanying BT Home Hub phone has also
undergone a radical makeover too.

{mospagebreak}Connecting to the router is
via WPA2 (rather than the old WEP). This just means that you sniff out
the network via your PC (works fine with Mac as well) and enter in the
security code and away you go. Thankfully this process behaves itself
with Vista machines, so none of this can’t find the network nonsense.
There comes with the Hub some connection software but this is really
not needed.

Navigating
to the Hub’s administrator web page is
easy and the pages themselves look good and easy to get around. A
better looking version of the previous attempt. From the new look
control panel, you can access settings for BT Fon, the BT Fusion phone
service and Broadband Talk.
You can also see what’s connected to the router, and carry out basic
troubleshooting.

There
is also an advanced mode for those of you that know what you are doing.
If you know what you are doing, it is surprisingly simple as well.

As
noted earlier, there is a power-saving mode. Thankfully, not only does
this save the planet, but in these times of the credit crunch, it will
also save you some cash. You can set the device to switch off the
wireless network overnight if you wish. Not only is this a money-saving
tip but also makes the router secure overnight, if you happen to live
in a neighbourhood of insomniac wireless hackers.

{mospagebreak}Another nice
touch is the access controls. Again anohter security feature but one
that parents will welcome. Basically, little Johnny’s laptop in his
bedrrom can be denied internet access at certain times of the day and
night. We couldn’t see any way of blocking certain websites, but truth
be told, these little nippers can figure out a way around this, so it
is no big deal.

Really what the big selling point as far as BT
is concerned is the wireless networking. It now supports 802.11n, so
with the right laptop or desktop you should be able to surf the
internet from the bottom of the garden. We did test this and we could
do this as long as a window was open providing clear air between the
router and the laptop. When the window was down we could only get a
connection from around 60 to 70 feet and this was a bit slow.

Also,
while initially the router provided a fast speed, we have noticed of
late that this has slowed down for no discerable reason. Streaming
clips from Youtube used to be adequate, but of late these have
stuttered.

Overall, this is a good router to use and will please those that don’t want to spend any time configuring the router.

Rating: 7/10

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