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Wireless Reviews

Feature Tour - Bundled Software

A key differentiation of Belkin's new wireless router line is the apps bundled with them. These programs run on Windows or Mac OS computers and most are available by right-clicking on the Belkin router monitor icon in your system tray. Figure 11 shows the apps bundled with the Play Max, which are a superset of the apps offered.

Applications available from the Router Monitor

Figure 11: Applications available from the Router Monitor

The apps are a mix of third-party programs and features built into the router. Documentation on most of the apps is hard to come by, though. The User Manual contains only a mention of them, with no instructions on how to use each app.

So you're left to search through Belkin's Support site and any help files that you can find in the router or the apps themselves. Belkin doesn't help much here, since a search for apps in the support site brought up only one result: How to set up Self Healing (Basic, Surf, Share, Play, Play Max). Entering each of the app names, however, did bring up more articles.

Self Healing
This app is accessed via the Self Healing link in the router admin screen. As described in the link above, all it does is run a wireless channel scan to see if there is a less active channel than the currently-selected one and "cleans routing tables". There's no mention of any check to see if your actually connected to the Internet or any self-healing that takes place if you're not.

Daily DJ
This application scans your iTunes or WMP library or directory of your choosing and profiles your music.  It then creates daily playlists from those profiles.  But the initial scan requires about 500 entries in order to create a playlist.   Unfortunately, the netbook that I’m traveling with doesn’t have that many tracks. So while it profiled the songs that were on my computer, there weren’t enough to add a playlist to iTunes.

Music Labeler
This application tries to match your "unknown" music tracks with online databases.  For this application, I imported some "unknown" tracks into iTunes and let the Music Labeler run.  Figure 12 shows the results.  It was able to clean up, i.e. properly identify, 25 tracks.

The Music Labeler was able to find matches for some of my unknown music

Figure 12: The Music Labeler was able to find matches for some of my unknown music

Music Mover
This app just allows you to select directories on the USB drives attached to the Play Max to be indexed for multimedia content that is served up by the Play Max' built-in DLNA server. There is no actual "moving" of files done, i.e. the app doesn't collect multimedia files into a central directory.

Figure 13 shows that there are two USB drives attached, and shows the directories I selected.

Music Mover Settings

Figure 13: Music Mover Settings

Bit Boost
This isn't much of an "app". It merely shows your currently-selected high priority application and serves as a desktop shortcut to the associated controls in the router. The default choice is voice.  You can change it to video, games or the default setting. Prioritization is done for local and Internet upload traffic only. It won't do anything to control download bandwidth hogs.

Launch Vuze
As part of the setup process, Vuze (formerly Azureus) is installed on your PC or Mac. The installed version is 4.4 – the same version as the free version that you can download from the Vuze website.

As with the free version, the version supplied by Belkin can be upgraded to Vuze plus for $24.95/year.  The Plus version gives you the ability to burn DVDs, scans downloads for viruses, includes an upgraded Power search and is ad free. 

Unfortunately, the Belkin instruction manual only tells you what Vuze is and doesn't really help you figure out how to use it with your Play Max. One thing we do know from Belkin (because we asked) is that the Vuze app is used to enable Torrent downloading and manage your Torrent queue. But the actual downloading is done by the router itself, i.e. the Torrent Genie "app".

Networked USB devices
This option shows the USB devices connected to your Play Max router. By opening the USB Print and Storage Center, you can browse your currently-attached devices as shown in Figure 14.

Attached shared resources

Figure 14: Attached shared resource

The Memory Safe tab provides access to an app that is a very rudimentary backup program that will back up selected folders to the storage device connected to the router.  If you have more than one storage device, you can choose which one to use. 

Figure 15 shows that, by default, all folders on your computer are selected for backup; you have to click on each folder to exclude it.  Backup appears to run hourly and you can't change this. Nor do you have control of whether the backup is full, incremental or differential.  Each backup appears to be a full backup, which can eat up disk space pretty quickly! This seems to contradict the information in this Belkin support article that says the first backup is full and subsequent ones are incremental.

Backup folder exclusion

Figure 15: Backup folder exclusion

The Next Backup menu item shows the next time for your scheduled backup.  If the drive is not available, it will show as disconnected.

Other items shown in Figure 11 are:

  • Belkin.5567 shows your current connection to the router.  If you are using a wired connection, this appears as “Unknown”
  • Router Settings is a shortcut to the status page shown in Figure 7 above.
  • Router Setup is a shortcut to Belkin's user interface that provides access to Advanced Tools shown in Figure 6.
  • User manual provides a link to the 39 page user manual that is installed on your disk when you run the setup program.  The user manual focuses on setup and troubleshooting. But, as mentioned earlier, provides very little information beyond a description of the bundled applications.

The last app, Print Genie, doesn't appear to be anything more than the printer installation wizards that are built into Windows or the Mac OS. Check it out yourself in the Belkin Support article.

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