BT Home Hub 3 ADSL Wi-Fi router
End of the line for signal box failure?
Review Everything is wireless these days, it seems. It’s convenient, effective and liberating not to be tied down to a laptop or whatever with wires. But if you find your Wi-Fi behaves erratically, dropping connections or stuttering to a stop when you’re streaming video, say, you’ll know it’s not always plain sailing. And then when you’re on the phone complaining to customer services it all seems to be working just fine again.
BT's Home Hub 3: turn on, tune in... no drop out
BT’s latest router has Smart Wireless which aims to take the stuttering and guesswork away. When you set up any router it automatically picks the clearest frequency. Trouble is, it’s stuck with it. So if something else pops up that isn’t Wi-Fi friendly, it can cause problems.
Video senders, those little doohickeys that transfer Strictly... from the living room TV to the bedroom set, so Gran can listen with the sound at maximum, can easily get in the way of Wi-Fi. Smart Wireless means the Home Hub 3 can dynamically change what frequency it’s on if it spots trouble. Other routers don’t do this automatically.
That’s one of the stand-out features of the BT machine which, like earlier Home Hubs, is painfully simple to set up. It has a neat detail when it comes to passwords, too.
You know when a friend comes round and wants to use your Wi-Fi? Searching for the password means remembering where you put that Post-It note you scribbled it on last time or crawling round the back of the router to see where it’s printed.
Password key fob
The Home Hub 3 has a plastic fob with the password on that slides out under your thumb easily and is so curiously shaped that you’ll remember it must pop back into the machine when you’ve reacquainted yourself with the code.
Balance of power
And it pops back with a satisfying click. Naturally, if you were to lose it, the details are on the base of the router, too. The Home Hub 3 works both with a regular line or the new faster BT Infinity connection,  if you live in range of a connected exchange.
Those with more exacting requirements can use a browser to tap in to the Home Hub 3 by typing bthomehub.home and the password whilst on the same network. Basic options such as wireless security protocol can be changed with the Advanced settings allowing for Firewall settings and Port Forwarding and other features to be configured.
There are other details like a simple-to-use onscreen interface so you can use your computer browser to adjust the hub’s settings, so it switches to standby at the times you choose. BT claims this is anyway the most eco-friendly hub yet in terms of power draw. It has a fast-connect button so if your laptop has the latest features you simply touch a button on the router and one on your laptop and they’re linked.
And the Home Hub 3 is certainly smaller and cuter than previous models, though there’s no Wi-Fi phone any more, apparently because it wasn’t a hugely popular element. Like earlier versions, though, the Home Hub has great range, stretching easily between second room bedroom and ground-floor study in our tests and, of course, it uses 802.11n wireless. The USB port can be used to network printers and storage, with the latter appearing as network drive.
The usual suspects plus Infinity
The latest Home Hub is an accomplished and good-looking machine that does all the things a router does: connects your wireless machines to the Internet across a good distance and with great reliability. Plus, it has the really excellent additional feature of being able to automatically change its wireless channel, if circumstances demand this. Switching the box off and on again may be the IT classic manœuvre but BT has found a way round this. Whatever will we do with all that extra time? ®
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