BT Home Hub 4 review - Slimmer, more stylish, design

BT’s latest wifi router is slimmer and faster than its predecessors

BT’s Home Hub is probably the most widely used router in the country, so it’s always worth taking a look at new versions as they come along. The Home Hub 4 isn’t exactly state-of-the-art – it sticks with basic 802.11n wifi, rather than the newer 802.11ac that Apple uses in its latest AirPort routers. However, it’s still a worthwhile upgrade for existing BT customers who have an older version of the Home Hub.

The main surprise with the Home Hub 4 is actually its size. It measures just 25mm thick, and has a slimline, upright design that makes it look more like a small set of speakers than a conventional broadband router. It certainly looks very smart and neat, especially with the blue glow that lights up the lower edge of the front panel when it’s turned on. The design is practical too, as BT apparently wanted to make sure that the thin parcel could slip through an ordinary size letter box just in case you aren’t indoors when it arrives.

Read more WiFi and Networking reviews.

The Home Hub 4 has a slimmer, more stylish design.

Tucked around the back you’ll find a port for your ADSL connection, along with four Ethernet ports for wired connections – although it’s a little disappointing that only one of these is for Gigabit Ethernet.  All the cables you need are included in the box, and there’s a small plastic card held in a slot on the back of the router with the password and other details that you need to connect to your new wifi network.

The Home Hub 4 actively offers help to new users too. When you connect a device to the Home Hub 4 for the first time and then open your web browser you will see the router’s Smart Setup web page appear automatically and offer help with any problems that it detects.

But while BT has done a good job helping new users to get started, they don’t give you much help if you want to go beyond the basics. The main difference between the Home Hub 4 and its predecessors is that the Home Hub 4 adds support for 802.11n wifi on the 5GHz frequency, as well as the 2.4GHz used by previous models. However, the skimpy little manual provided by BT makes little effort to explain the differences between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, or how to set up the router to use a particular frequency.

It’s worth persevering, though, as the dual-band support does provide a real increase in performance. The old Home Hub 3 that we currently use in our office provides data transfer speeds of about 42Mbps on the 2.4GHz frequency, and those speeds were consistent when our MacBook Air was located both 1m and 10m away from the router. The Home Hub 4 was limited to the same speeds when using the 2.4GHz frequency, but switching to the 5GHz band more than doubled performance to 100Mbps at 1m, and 95Mbps at 10m.

OUR VERDICT

There are plenty of other dual-band routers already available, of course, and we’re not sure that we’d pay the full price of £109.00 for the Home Hub 4. However, existing BT customers can buy it for just £35.00, which makes it a good upgrade option for people who are currently using an older Home Hub for their Internet connection at home.

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