Billion BiPAC 7402NX review

£151
Price when reviewed

There aren’t too many developments in the workaday world of wireless routers that we’d call exciting. Every once in a while we get a performance boost or a standards ratification,

Billion BiPAC 7402NX review

And in most respects, the latest wireless router from Billion follows this template. It’s a pretty standard draft-n router: it doesn’t look anything special from the outside with its regular, rectangular box shape and three aerials poking up at the back.

But take a look at that rear panel and you’ll see something a little unusual: a USB socket. Not for connecting a printer or external storage – we’ve seen that trick before – but for giving shared access to the internet via a USB mobile broadband dongle.

That might sound a bit pointless given that the 7402NX already has an ADSL2/2+ modem built in, but if you rely on your internet connection being up 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it’s a godsend. If your ADSL connection goes down, it will automatically switch over to the HSDPA connection, and there are other applications, too.

If you need to move from an LLU broadband supplier to standard BT-based ADSL, for instance, you can move over to mobile and ensure that you’re not without internet for the period of the switchover. Setup is a bit fiddly – you need to supply the router with APN, username and password details – and the list of supported dongles isn’t 100% comprehensive, but once done it works as well as your network and dongle will allow.

That’s not the only area where the BiPAC impresses, though. There’s a solid array of features, including four Gigabit Ethernet sockets, a built-in ADSL2/2+ modem, secured VPN with support for up to 16 simultaneous tunnels, and a pretty usable web-based setup, though there are no luxury extras such as multiple SSIDs, guest modes or status screens. You’ll get these if you splash out on a Belkin N1 Vision.

Performance is excellent, too. In direct back-to-back speed tests against the Linksys WAG160N, we found this router to be fractionally faster, achieving solid file transfer throughput of 43 to 44Mbit/sec in all locations around the house, and an equally impressive 18Mbit/sec in our stress test, 40 metres away from the house. The Linksys lagged distinctly behind.

In fact it’s such a good performance that we’d have no hesitation in recommending this router; if it weren’t for the price. It’s an impressive piece of kit, but £150 is an awful lot of money to pay for the luxury of VPN and mobile broadband support, the latter of which may only be employed intermittently.

Details

WiFi standardDraft 802.11n
Modem typeADSL

Wireless standards

802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes

LAN ports

Gigabit LAN ports4

Features

Exterior antennae3

Dimensions

Dimensions230 x 115 x 37mm (WDH)

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