Recently picked up an entry level ($30) Belkin router and was impressed by how they set things up.
They make the network password protected by default, and they print the password on the bottom of the router. But they don't set a default password for the management page.
When you try to navigate to any page after connecting, they redirect you to the management page so you can set the router up.
There's no default password on the management page so you can get right in.
I haven't bought a router in a while, so maybe everyone is doing that these days. But my experience with most routers in the past has been opposite. They start you off with a network that's wide open, but then they make you wade through a default password to administer the device. Of course, if anyone has the slightest interest in messing with your network, those default passwords are readily available. And all your non-https traffic is easily observed.
Belkin's approach of having a secure network out of the box but being able to manage the router without having to refer to the manual for a password is a definite improvement.
They also use the DNS capabilities of the router to set up
http://router to go to the management page, saving you from having to remember if it's
192.168.0.1. For this device it's
192.168.2.1, which I like. It's not too commonly used so it's less likely to conflict with other devices on the network like a modem which may have its own NAT.
The web interface is generally easy to use and well polished. It seems like it would be easy for a beginner to figure out without making the advanced features too hard to find.
The router includes the capability to clone your computer's mac address, a feature strangely missing from Apple's Airport Extreme.
Another feature that seemed nice is "self-healing", enabled by default. It will automatically reboot the router once a week to keep it running smoothly.
Thanks to the programmers at Belkin for a positive user experience.
Manhattan mobile software engineer.