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Belkin Home Base Reviewed

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Introduction

Belkin Home Base

At a Glance
Product Belkin Home Base (F5L049)
Summary USB device server that connects via 10/100 Ethernet or 2.4 GHz b/g/N
Pros • Simple setup
• Works with Mac OS and Windows
• Simple photo sharing with Picasa and Flickr
• Built-in media server
Cons • Media server has typical DLNA oddities
• Only one client served at a time in Network USB mode
• Slow file serving
• Very basic backup options

With many households now having a wireless network and multiple computers, it only makes sense to share devices. We have reviewed lots of full-featured and powerful NASes. But sometimes all you really need is a simple way to share storage, and possibly a USB printer or scanner. 

Belkin's Home Base is a simple four port USB device server that connects to your LAN by either 10/100 Ethernet or 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g/N wireless.  USB devices plugged into the Home Base can then be shared on the local network.

Figure 1 shows the FCC photo for the Home Base's board. The photo is too fuzzy to identify all of the devices. But close-ups in the FCC docs show key devices including an Atheros AR9130 400 MHz Wireless Network processor, AR9102 2.4 GHz 2x2 11n radio and AR8012 10/100 Ethernet PHY. I didn't open the case, so couldn't determine how much Samsung RAM or Macronix flash (on the bottom of the board) there is.

Home Base board

Figure 1: Home Base board

Setup

While it’s probably easiest to set up the Home Base with a wired Ethernet connection, it also supports WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) to help you easily connect to your secured wireless network.  Figure 2 shows the front panel of the Home Base which sports a power indicator, WPS setup button and two wireless status indicators.

Front Panel

Figure 2: Front Panel

Although I did my initial setup using a wired Ethernet connection, I also tested WPS setup, which supports both  push button and  PIN code methods.  I used the push button on the Home Base and clicked on the virtual WPS button on my wireless router’s management interface, and the Home Base correctly negotiated a secure connection to my wireless network.

The instructions state that you should only use a wired connection or a wireless connection – not both.  When I checked my router, I understood why.  Both the wired and wireless connection share the same MAC address – something I haven’t seen before.

If you plan to share only storage on your network, you don’t really need to install any software.  By default, all four USB ports on the Home Base are configured in “NAS” mode.  Storage devices plugged into any ports will appear in Windows explorer as shown in Figure 3 or in the Mac OS finder. 

Drive mapped on Win 7

Figure 3: Drive mapped on Win 7

Although the specifications for the Home Base don’t include Windows 7 or Snow Leopard (OSX 10.6), I was able to connect to USB drives on both of those platforms.  By default, the Home Base appears on the network as Bk-HBxxxxxx where xxxxxx are the last six digits of the Home Base MAC address.

If you plan to share USB printers or other devices or want to take advantage of some of the Home Base’s advanced features, you’ll need to install the Home Base control center.  Belkin supplies a cross-platform application that runs both on the PC and the Mac, but requires the installation of Rosetta, Apple’s binary translation software that provides backwards compatibility to Power PC-based legacy Macs.




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User reviews

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Average user rating from: 8 user(s)

NOTE! Please post product reviews from actual experience only.
Questions, review comments and opinions about products not based on actual use will not be published.

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Overall: 
 
2.6 Features :
 
2.8 Performance :
 
2.1 Reliability :
 
2.8
 
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Home Base incompatible with Win7

Overall rating: 
 
1.0
Features:
 
1.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by Greg
February 01, 2012
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I purchased the Belkin F5LO49 (Home Base) 18 months ago. I opened the box 3 days ago. I plugged in 1 x 1Tb WD, 1 x 2TB WD and 1 x 2TB Samsung. The only USB port light that works was the 1TB WD. After 8 hours of playing over 3 days, the 2 x 2TB would light up with NLAS turned off. With NLAS turned off, Control centre recognises all the drives. It does not connect to them! Win 7 network "sees" the Home Base but cannot talk to it - network error. After 4 attempts got through to Belkin support. I'm sorry it is not supported under Win 7. Would you have a vista machine? Well yes I do; but even if I get it to work on the Vista machine its not going to work on my Win7 box is it? says I. "NO" says the CSR. "Good bye", says I.

CRAP! and $180 18months ago!

 

Not compatible with lion+Bad customer service

Overall rating: 
 
1.0
Features:
 
1.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by pissedoff
January 06, 2012
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It sometimes works when using snow leopard and after i upgrade to lion it does not working anymore.
Asked the tech support for assistance I need to chase them up for 3 weeks with the excuse "escalated to developer" but they comeback saying they stop creating the driver for mac os. So in other hand the device is just USELES!!!!

 

Works, sometimes, but not as advertised. Lousy customer service.

Overall rating: 
 
2.3
Features:
 
1.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by factoid
August 21, 2010
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Junk. Would not recommend to anyone.

Background: I had a dinky little print server from Linksys, about the size of a cigarette pack. Worked great, and worked for ALL the computers in the house. No waiting - just send click print and it worked. But it wasn't wireless, and when I moved my router to another room, I needed a wireless print server. So I bought this POS.

#1: After installing the software, it thinks it needs to install the printer drivers again, even though the computer already has the printer driver installed. This leads to an endless loop where it keep asking for the printer server it already has, and won't stop looking.
#2: If you reinstall your printer drivers, it still won't find them, and will ask for them again the next time the printer is connected.
#3: It supposedly will automatically connect and disconnect from the printer as needed, but it doesn't work. For example: I print from computer "A", it connects and prints, but then when I go to print from computer "B" it is supposed to automatically disconnect Computer "A" and connect computer "B". It doesn't work. I have to manually "connect" to the rpinter from one computer, which prevents access from any other computer in the house until it is manually disconnected.
#4: Lousy customer service. When I asked customer service how to fix this, the response was, "Yes, the Belkin Home Base automatically connects and disconnects as needed." When I pointed out that this was NOT my question and that their answer was useless, they took a week to email back (and then only when prodded) that I should install the software from their website instead of the CD. Which, ironically, is what I did with half the computers in the house, because they don't have CD/DVD drives. I explained that their answer was useless, and they have never responded.
#5: I got the thing working, albeit with manual connect only. But now, when I need to use it again a few weeks later, I find that it once again refuses to connect to the printer, EVEN THOUGH THE "HOME BASE CONTROL CENTER" says that it is connected.

Crap. Junk. Worthless. Expensive.

 

Home base

Overall rating: 
 
5.0
Features:
 
5.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by crispyduck
June 24, 2010
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I have only just started using this device so my scoring maybe a little pre-mature! Firstly, the initial setup was a breeze. The home base control center found my printer but at first wouldn't connect. There is a very simple fix in the FAQ in help. This involved following easy steps to change firewall settings. It now works perfectly. As a print server, I can't knock it. It connects quickly, appears to have no restricting re size of documents and images (unlike my old belkin print server which by belkin's own admission, was rubbish).
Strangely, I have managed to access a USB memory device by more than one computer which seems to go against what other reviews state. Obviously, I only one user can access any one file.
I have just watched a full lenght movie from a pen drive in DivX format from a pendrive through the Home Base on my Laptop. The quality was excellent, the movie started within 15 seconds and didn't miss a beat. I haven't tried using it for storing video editing projects yet or for sharing music files so I can't comment on that. However, so far, its seems to be doing what it says on the box. Fingers crossed that it remains that way.

 

only first base for me

Overall rating: 
 
2.7
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
4.0
Reviewed by Musekissed
May 30, 2010
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I bought the Belkin home base for three reasons: 1. share a printer, 2. share data on external harddisks, and 3. use it as a media server.
To make it short: Installation under Win XP and Win7 was no problem at all, just stuck to the short guidelines. Also no trouble with the stability of the wlan connection. Then the trouble started.
1. printer support does not work, neither under Win XP nor Win7. The printer is found correctly, but the installation of the drivers does not work. Reason is probably that it's a multifunction device (HP PSC 1210) and the drivers are not found by Windows. Might not be a Belkin problem, but anyhow it does not work.
2. data sharing works perfectly well, with the already mentioned slow speed.
3. Media server show the same weak performance as Craig described - only a small fraction of the files are accessible, a mix of pics, videos, music, and these keep changing with every refreshment. I try to access these with a Phillips NP2500, also not listed but DLNA compatible.

So 1 out of 3 is not good for a 99€ device. The email support of Belkin was quick, but far too general and did not address my problem.

My conclusion is that the description and data sheet suck. They're both too short and do not address all the restrictions, so it's really misleading.

 
 
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