The Pulse is pretty simple looking—a black box about 7” deep, 5.5” wide, and 1.5” high (Figure 1). There are two indicator lights on the front, one for network activity, the other for power. This is consistent with the Pulse's focus. The idea of the Pulse is to run out of sight and out of mind; you only notice it when there is an issue on your network that you need to know about.
Figure 1: The Belkin Pulse
The Pulse comes with a phone cable, Ethernet patch cable, Ethernet crossover cable, USB/Ethernet adapter, power cable, and some very minimal instructions. After testing the Pulse for the past couple weeks, I can honestly report it is pretty intuitive.
You start by simply connecting the Ethernet cable to a port on your network, plugging in the phone line (an optional step), and plugging in power. The Pulse is designed to pull an IP address via DHCP, so IP configuration is not required.
If you want to assign a static IP address, you can do so later via the very functional web-based Dashboard, or you can use the included USB adapter with the crossover cable to access a basic Administration Console Utility (Figure 2).
Figure 2: The Pulse's Administration Console
To access this utility, you connect the USB Ethernet adapter to the Pulse, and connect the included red cross-over Ethernet cable from the adapter to your PC. The Pulse provides an IP address to your NIC, and then allows you to log in via a browser to the configuration page at http://192.168.100.1.
I found it interesting that you can't log into the Pulse via the dynamically acquired IP address assigned to its Ethernet port. However, this wasn't an issue in testing, as using DHCP worked fine, and once the device is accessible via the Dashboard, you can change the network settings there.
Also in the Admin Console is the firmware update utility. Clicking on Update To The Latest Firmware triggers the Pulse to check for an updated file. The firmware that came with the device, 1.5.5, was the current firmware.
Once all plugged in and connected, the included instruction sheet directs you to register the device at Belkin's website to activate it. As a side note, it would be helpful if the instruction sheet told you to write down the serial number, as it is located on the back of the Pulse and is easier to read before installing the device.
To activate the Pulse, you enter a registration code, set up a user name and password, enter the serial number, and select a time zone. Our test box came with a 1-year subscription to monitor 10 devices, making it a nice “NOC-in-a-box” solution for our small LAN. Belkin also offers a three-year subscription option, as well as the ability to support 10, 20, or 50 network devices.