668 of 700 people found the following review helpful
4If you're having problems with this router...read this!
ByR. Palmon September 26, 2012
So, I purchased this router a little over a week ago and hooking it up was a breeze. However, I went to speedtest.net and checked my download speed...and I was supposed to be getting up to 20mbps download speed...but I was only getting around .80 mbps. Not good. I hooked my computer up directly to the cable to test and make sure it wasn't my internet provider. I got around 24mbps. So, it was the router. After troubleshooting it for a while over the phone with my brother (who is very good with computers and this kind of stuff...I'm terrible) we were about to call it quits and accept that I received a faulty router. But, we tried one last thing and now I really like this router!
If you are having a similar problem as I described above...try this.
Open up the Cisco Connect program that came with the router. Click on Router Settings. Then, under Other Options click Advanced Settings. This will open a new page. On the menu bar at the top click on Applications and Gaming. Then, in that sub-menu click on the QoS link. The very first setting should be called WMM support. If this is enabled...disable it. Save your settings. And then go test your internet speed. Speedtest.net is a good site if you don't already know another one.
I guess that the WMM setting is there to help enhance games/applications (?), but lots of people have problems with it interfering with the internet speed/causing problems. So, it totally fixed my problem...I hope that this feedback can fix others problems as well!
I'm also an I/T professional, so I had a lot of fun puting this thing through its paces.
[Update November 9, 2012 - I modified this review slightly to eliminate confusion between my comments about the EA3500 and the older E4200. They're very similar devices. The big difference is that the EA3500 has a big faster top speed than the E4200, and there are ipad/android apps available for wizard configuration.)
Range: Range is the most important part of a router to me, especially because signal strength is the biggest factor in speed. Even though the maximum speed advertised for a Wireless-N device is far higher, you can be sitting next to an B-wireless router and beat the pants off of an N-wireless device 100 feet away. Linksys routers seem to abhor the idea of external antennae, which I always feel hurts them. Compared to the Asus RT-N66U, this system tended to be underpowered. My office registered the Asus at -45dBm, while this was at -55dBm. That might not sound like much, but remember that decibels are a logaritmic scale, meaning that the Cisco EA3500 signal is about 1/10 the strength of the Asus.
Speed: The 750Mb/s is a bit of bad marketing that eveyone participates in. The highest consumer bandwidth options I've seen is 50Mb/s (up & down) from FIOS, which just about any modern router can handle, so if you expect to get better performance from Netflix or Skype, this router problable won't help. Furthermore, the 750 is 450 on the 5Ghz N channel, and 300 on the 2.4 Ghz N channel, but you can only do one at a time, so the best you'll actually see is 450 (which is darned good). 5GHz N can be faster, but is very susceptible to distance, so from my experience, you pretty much have to be in the same room to get those speeds. That said, if you have your TV come into a slingbox Sling Media Slingbox PRO-HD SB300-100, and then sit in that room with your iPad, you will be able to stream that video with great reception. But of course, one has to wonder why you don't just turn on your TV. When in other rooms, you'll get up to 300Mb/s over 2.4N, or 54Mb/s over 2.4G. Still good enough for streaming, but it takes the shine off of this device versus other less costly ones. This, however, is a general industry issue, and not specifically related to this Linksys. This specific model did indeed demonstrate the ability to connect to it at the advertised speeds... when my laptop was a foot away.
Features: App - If all you have is an IPad or Android tablet, but no laptop, then having an app that allows you to configure the router is useful. Personally, I have no issues going in through Safari and using the web interface, but if you're not a geek, you might. Disk - the great thing about the Linksys E series is the ability to easily mount an external hard drive. This is a great feature, and allows you to save hundreds versus a cloud storage system like Dropbox or iCloud (the interface isn't as nice, nor does it have disaster recovery).
Room for improvement: The ASUS has a few features that I really like but are lacking on the Linksys No repeater mode - The Asus will allow you to set it up as a repeater for a wireless system. Linksys insists you buy a different device No DoS protection - I discovered that I am the frequent victim of Denial of Service attacks, though I have no idea why. I suspect everyone is. Amped Wireless and Asus both have configs that let you fight DoS attacks, Linksys does not. No VPN - The ASUS is also my OpenVPN server, which allows me to be out of the house and securely get access to things on my home network without having to set up a bunch of port forwarding, which is a security risk. Both iPhone/iPad and Android phones & tablets offer native OpenVPN clients.
On my e4200, I had frequent issues with the 5Ghz radio to the point where I had to turn it off. I don't know if that's any better on this EA3500. It seemed to be okay, but only continued use would show it... but my main router is (currently) the ASUS. This one went onto one of my shelves, so I wouldn't really know.
***UPDATE 12 OCTOBER 2012*** I've actually thrown out my powerline in favor of Actiontec Ethernet to Coax Adapter Kit for Homes with Cable TV Service (ECB2500CK01). the Powerline stuff would occasionally conk out for no apparent reason, which eventually became too frustrating to deal with. The Actiontec takes advantage of the fact that my whole house is wired for Optimum Cable. I get great speeds, and haven't had any drops since it was installed.
If you want a powerful and speedy, no frills wireless router, this router will fit the bill! This is the fifth Linksys router I have owned and similar to my past Linksys routers, the E2500 is reliable and very easy to set-up. Most recently I owned the Linksys E1000 Wireless-N Router, which is a similar but older 2.4 GHz Band router.
For this E2500, out of the box, you have the router, Ethernet cable, power cord, and set-up CD. The first you do is pop in the CD, and 8 minutes later, the router is fully-setup and functions seamlessly! Unlike older generations of Linksys routers where one had to adjust the admin settings through a web-browser in addition to the software CD, with the newer generation Linksys routers, including this E2500, the CD sets up everything. The "Cisco Connect" program automatically detects the cable modem and router and allows the user to secure the network flawlessly! Within minutes of the "Cisco Connect" program configuring the router, the secured wireless network is ready to go and the user can start adding computers to the network!
If this wasn't enough, the E2500 has a "guest password" option where the user can set a guest password for guests on the network, which is separate and independent from the normal network password. This functionality allows the network owner more control over who has permanent versus intermittent access to the network. Overall, the E2500 is an excellent router with great reliability and super-fast and easy setup. In addition, Linksys has fantastic technical support, if one needs it (although with the easy setup of this router, you probably will not need to contact tech support!).
The only gripe about the E2500 is that there are no indicator lights on top of the router (such as power, connection, etc.), unlike the prior E1000 model, which had such indicator lights. However, this is a minor inconvenience, because you'll never pay attention to the indicator lights because the router will be functioning normally for a long time.
Last week I purchased a Linksys E1200 wireless router and installed it following the enclosed instructions and CD. I kept getting various error messages and could not complete installation. Then began a four hour nightmare with the Linksys award winning tech support. This is a chat with someone somewhere who kept telling me basically to do what I had already been doing. After getting nowhere with three different support people I finally gave up, took the thing back for a refund and bought a Netgear router. It was up and running in ten minutes. At no time was it suggested that the Linksys was defective, which it probably was. I will never buy another if I can help it and I certainly won't spend more than a few minutes with tech support before I take it back.
The router worked fine for three months and then died. I contact "Support" and was told that while the product warranty was for one year, support was limited to 90 days. To obtain an RMA to return the router, I would need to buy a support ticket for $29.95. I'm sure there would be a long, involved method for returning the defective router without the support fee, but seriously, who wants to deal with a company that has such poor regards for their customers?
UPDATE: 3/28/2013 Cisco has apparently changed their policy on this in late 2012 due to public outrage. I am leaving my original review intact as a record of what transpired. There are many companies making routers... only you can decide with whom you can trust moving forward. And quite honestly, the performance of this router is not that great or reliable. I've been using a Netgear R6300 for the last month and it is phenomenal.
UPDATE: 7/11/2012 - Cisco surreptitiously updated the firmware of the router on 6/26/2012... my router, your router if you own this and basically every 3500 and 4500 router. The terms of this update, which no sane human being would ever agree too, completely changed my opinion of this router and of Cisco.
AVOID this router and the EA4500 at all cost.
The firmware upgrade, that was done without my knowledge or permission, essentially turns this router into a privacy nightmare.
It is evil.
Just Google Cisco Cloud Connect Privacy and read all about it. You will be shocked and angered.
There has been such outrage over this that Cisco has released information on how to downgrade the firmware to the previous version. Although this mitigates the problem for the time being, I would not trust this as a lasting fix and would completely avoid Cisco routers. They have lost my trust.
The Linksys EA3500 has a decent feature set, is easy to setup and provides excellent performance.
Although you can setup the router without using the provided setup CD, I'd recommend using the setup CD. The Setup CD makes the installation and initial setup of your router painless. The entire setup process takes only about 5 minutes. Having said that, I would then manually go in to the web based interface and make a few changes. Notably, you will want to change the admin password to the router so it will not be the same as the wireless passphrase. Having the same password for both is a clear security weakness.
Speaking of security vulnerabilities, you may want to Google "Wi-Fi protected setup security vulnerability" and read up on that. For further information, be sure to listen to episode #337 of the podcast Security Now with Steve Gibson.
Getting back to the setup, it is nearly hands-off. All you need to do is launch Cisco Connect, attach the power cord to the router and plug in the ethernet cable when instructed to do so and then about midway through the process you can either accept the SSID name and password or type in your preferred name and password. It's that easy.
There are quite a few features that will appeal to many users. The Guest Access is great (although not that secure.) You can setup your router to have a separate login for guest access to the Internet. You can specify how many simultaneous guest connections you'll allow. The Guest access password is different (or should be different) than the admin password for access. Another issue I have though is that you cannot change the SSID for Guest Access. It will always be named the same as your main SSID with the addition of "-guest." So if your main SSID were "OurHouse," the Guest access SSID would be "OurHouse-guest" and that cannot be changed to anything else.
The router has gigabit ethernet ports for equipment that is capable of utilizing gigabit throughput.
A USB port on the router allows the user to attach a hard drive for shared across the network access. You can assign users and privileges easily. At the time I made my video review, I had not yet attempted to hook up an external drive but since then, I have. It is really awesome to be able to have network attached storage that all or specified users can access. You can use it for network wide backups of your other connected computers or simply for file storage to keep things off your primary hard drive. It's a great feature that I've never had before and I love it. However, it is not without it's issues either. At this time, you are unable to use automated backup solutions, like Time Machine. A real bummer.
There is an iPhone and Android app you can get to allow you to manage the router with a limited number of options. The app is called Connect Express and it gives you the ability to do certain things such as edit guest access, change the Router network name and password, view what devices are connected to your network, and a few other "advanced" settings. You can even check for firmware updates for the router. It's quite handy to be able to do this from your iPhone but not as full-featured as it should be to be completely useful.
The router itself is quite small and runs quite cool. Actually the bottom of the router gets warmer than the top of the router. I like that there are no protruding antennas, yet coverage and signal strength in my house was excellent. I've got a 2000 sq ft house and the router is on the second floor in my office. The signal reaches all areas of my house with very good to excellent signal strength.
There are no obnoxious blinking lights on this router. Only on the back of the router will you see LED activity which you can use for troubleshooting to make sure you have data moving.
Parental Controls may be helpful for some but it is quite limited in what hours you can block. You can block access by device name with each device having a different schedule. You can block out chunks of time on "School nights" and/or "Weekends" between the hours specified. But what is weird is that you can only start blocking between Noon and Midnight and you can only stop the blocking between the hours of 12:30AM to 11:30AM. If you wanted to block access starting at 9AM until 3PM, you could not specify that time.
It's also possible to block specific URL's but you are limited to only 8 blocked URL's. When you attempt to go to a blocked URL, the browser displays a warning page that the site is blocked and allows access only if the parental control password is entered. You can also completely block access to a specific device by choosing the "always" option. It's basic protection but better than none I guess. It's just not that robust.
My final thoughts: The security issues are troubling. Maybe in a home situation you can let some of these slide, but you certainly would want to consult with a security expert before considering the use of this router in a business setting.
The iPhone app, although better than nothing I suppose, leaves much to be desired in what you can really accomplish with it.
The web interface that Linksys uses has a very tired look to it. It's looked this way ever since I started using Linksys routers and while there is something to be said for familiarity, it really could use a serious updating. In my opinion, Netgear has a much nicer user interface and their newer routers also have a slick application for managing the router that offers more control of router functions and settings.
Overall, It's a decent router, if not a little pricey, in an attractive, compact and unpretentious package.
M. Erb, We appreciate your taking the time to share with us your concerns regarding security, and we would like to assure you that Cisco takes security and privacy very seriously.
Please note that Cisco Connect Cloud and Cisco Linksys routers do not monitor or store information about how our customers are using the Internet and we do not arbitrarily disconnect customers from the Internet. The Cisco Connect Cloud service has never monitored customers' Internet usage, nor was it designed to do so. Please visit Cisco's Privacy Statement below as our Cisco Connect Cloud terms of service have been updated: http://www.cisco.com/web/siteassets/legal/connect_cloud_supp.html
You do have an option to continue using Cisco Connect Cloud, or roll-back to the classic interface as Cisco will continue to support both local and cloud management options for our customers. To learn more about Cisco Connect Cloud and available options, including rolling back to the classic firmware, please visit http://www6.nohold.net/Cisco2/ukp.aspx?vw=1&docid=075691a356fa4dda9d40baed9a266813_Why_was_I_updated_to_Cisco_Connect_Cloud_.xml&pid=94&respid=0&snid=2&dispid=0&cpage=search
Should you have any question or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Technical support at 1-800-326-7114 On behalf of Cisco, we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.
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This router stopped working within 5 weeks of purchase. When I called tech support they then tried, amazingly, to sell me *another* router. Long spiel about how I could increase my speed, etc. I said I just wanted them to fix this one. The tech (deep in the Philippines with a close to impenetrable accent) then said I should consider buying a software "optimization" package from them and implied my computer was running too slowly and "that might be the problem." Asked me at least three times how old my computer was. After twice telling her it was less than two years old, had plenty of RAM, etc., when she asked the third time, I just said, again, I wanted the router I'd just bought fixed. She took 1.5 hours to do this, all the while trying to sell me stuff and saying things like, "If you buy the new router, I guarantee you it will be fully supported," etc. The supposed "fix" she provided lasted about 45 minutes and then was gone again. I have lost all faith in Cisco/Linksys and have no doubt at all why their stock has been in the toilet for so long. Their practices are unconscionable. I will be calling corporate headquarters to make a complaint for this pay-TV, hustler type of approach, but I don't expect any satisfactory response. IMO, stay far away from this router and from any Cisco or Linksys products. They seem to have given up on how their company is perceived and are just relying on scams for income. I really couldn't believe this company would do this.
I purchased the E2500 to replace a D-Link DIR615 when D-Link's 802.11N function went wonky. I picked the E2500 because it promised simultaneous dual band networking. Like most people, I have legacy 11b and 11g devices in my home, so the concurrent band feature was important to me. I was OK with the ethernet connections only being 10/100.
At least in my home/RF environment this router was a total disappointment. The range on the 5Ghz side was very, very poor. The only time speed on the 5Ghz side was noticeably better was if the wireless device was within 10 feet of the router. Range on the 2.4 GHz side was noticeably worse than the older D-Link it replaced. No amount of setting tweaks or channel selections seemed to improve the router's performance. Throughput on the either band was - at best - sub par.
On the plus side Cisco let's you setup the router with a "hand holding" approach or you can opt out and go a more advanced setup mode.
This router might be good for someone in a small apartment or open loft.
I've had the EA3500 for a couple months without any issue. Never needed to reset it even once like other routers I own. But last week I found myself unable to enter setup, like many recent reviewers, because Cisco stealthily updated the firmware to the Cisco Connect Cloud version. It required me to sign up with Cisco and gave them my router password in order to get back into my own router sitting on my desk.
It is not that the Connect Cloud interface is bad, the problem is in the execution. First of all, there is no reason to force users to sign up in order to gain access to one's own router settings. Secondly, you could not access most of the settings unless the router is connected to the Connect Cloud service. Often times, a user probably won't fiddle with the settings after initial setup unless there is a network issue. If the issue prevents you from connecting to the Connect Cloud service, how are you supposed to fix it without being able to get into most of the settings? This is clearly not a very well thought-out scheme.
For now, I'd advice people to avoid this router (or any routers in the Connect Cloud family) until Cisco fixes the major issues in the firmware and shows real commitment to protecting its customers' privacy and right.
We appreciate your taking the time to share with us your concerns regarding security, and we would like to assure you that Cisco takes security and privacy very seriously.
Please note that Cisco Connect Cloud and Cisco Linksys routers do not monitor or store information about how our customers are using the Internet and we do not arbitrarily disconnect customers from the Internet. The Cisco Connect Cloud service has never monitored customers' Internet usage, nor was it designed to do so. Please visit Cisco's Privacy Statement below as our Cisco Connect Cloud terms of service had been updated: http://www.cisco.com/web/siteassets/legal/connect_cloud_supp.html
You do have an option to continue using the Cisco Connect Cloud, or roll-back to the classic interface as Cisco will continue to support both local and cloud management options for our customers. To learn more about the Cisco Connect Cloud and available options, including rolling back to the classic firmware, please visit http://www6.nohold.net/Cisco2/ukp.aspx?vw=1&docid=075691a356fa4dda9d40baed9a266813_Why_was_I_updated_to_Cisco_Connect_Cloud_.xml&pid=94&respid=0&snid=2&dispid=0&cpage=search
Should you have any question or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Technical support at 1-800-326-7114 On behalf of Cisco, we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.
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I originally rated this router with 4 stars. I just updated my review to downgrade to 2 stars. The router stopped working last night - just 7 months after I got it and configured it. It can no longer get an IP address from my internet provider, Comcast. My computers could still connect to it wirelessly and the DHCP server seemed to work still, but what good is any of that without an internet connection? After hours of trying to fix it - including updating the firmware and resetting it to the factory defaults - I finally gave up and set my old router back up.
With more and more of our devices integrating with our wireless networks, a wireless router is evolved from a luxury or novelty item to a thing of necessity in most households. This multi-device reliance on wireless makes a stable network an absolute must.
The Linksys EA4500 App-Enabled N900 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router with Gigabit and USB promises much and so far, I find it delivers. I upgraded to this router from a Cisco-Linksys E4200 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router, and already see a performance improvement in several areas. For instance, my TiVo Premieres now have a feature that allows me to stream recordings from one to the other if they are both connected to my network. With the old router, I could transfer the programs between TiVos over the network, but streaming never worked. I actually thought this was a problem on the TiVo side until I installed the EA4500 router and found the problem resolved. I can now stream without any buffering issues between those two TiVos.
But I'm getting ahead of myself... First, the setup. As with all of the Cisco/Linksys SOHO routers in the last few years, the router has a setup disk that does the heavy lifting for you. Before connecting the new router, you insert the disk into a computer and follow the instructions as it walks you through each step, complete with pictures and text instruction. One of the first steps is to check to see if there are any updates to the Cisco Connect software that configures and manages the router. This process took quite a long time, I thought, although I'm on Comcast/Xfinity's fast internet. At one point, I worried that it was hung, but it finally did finish. I would say it took approximately 30 minutes for the update check and download. Once that part completed, the rest of the configuration proceeded much more quickly.
Once it finished, I found that I could not connect to the internet. My desktop PC was connected to the EA4500 via Ethernet cable and was not the issue. After I entered the Advanced Configuration in a web browser and went through each node, I found that Cisco Connect had assumed I needed to clone my computer's MAC address and had enabled that setting. I already happen to know that my Comcast internet service does not need to do that, so I disabled the MAC address cloning setting, rebooted the modem and router for good measure, and found that fixed it. Running a test of the internet speeds using the Cisco Connect utility showed I was receiving more than 20 Mbps download speed and close to 5 Mbps upload speed. Needless to say, I was very pleased.
With the internet issue resolved, the next task was to enter the special configurations I needed for port forwarding, QoS (Quality of Service), etc.
The QoS feature allows you to configure one or more devices with bandwidth allowances and restrictions. In my case, I want my Ooma Voice Over IP router to have priority over other devices in my network, so I entered its MAC address (a unique identifier for network devices) and gave it the highest priority. If you have devices you want to configure as a low priority, you can do this also.
I use port forwarding to enable the FTP service on my NetGear ReadyNAS device to be accessed from outside of my home network. Port forwarding directs traffic for certain protocols and ports such as FTP to the IP address you've specified on your internal network. Once configured, I can navigate to the IP address Comcast gives my home FTP and the router knows to send that traffic to the ReadyNAS device. The port forwarding nodes are easy to configure, with several common protocols already pre-populated for you so that all you have to do is enable them and enter the IP address for the device in question. However, the EA4500 also offers more advanced configuration by allowing you to name and configure your own ports rather than using their pre-built options.
If you do need to access any part of your network remotely, you will find tremendous advantage to configuring the DDNS feature, unless your ISP happens to assign you a static external IP address, which most do not for residential customers. What that means is your external IP address with your ISP is probably dynamic, or DHCP, and can be changed at any time without notice. Chances are your external IP address will stay the same most of the time even with DHCP, but the chance is still there it will change and it will always happen when you most need to get to something while outside your network. You can register for a DDNS address with several registrars and enter the configuration for your DDNS address in the Linksys router. The Linksys router stays in communication with the registrar and keeps it updated as to what your external IP address is currently. So instead of using your actual IP address, you simply point your web browser, ftp client, etc. to a textual address that you've set up at the DDNS registrar and they redirect that address to whatever your networks current IP is, like magic. I do use this feature, and found it works well in the EA4500.
With a USB port on the back of the router, Linksys has enabled users to attach an external USB hard drive to the EA4500 and share the files and folders on that hard drive with users on your network. You can configure user IDs and passwords within the Advanced Configuration for the router and be as granular or as open with the access as suits your particular needs.
There are four Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back of the router as well, and my desktop PCs network card is connecting at 1 Gigabit as does my Trendnet Switch. My other wired devices all have a maximum speed of 100 MB, but they connect very well also.
But the heart of this device, and what most customers need it for, is its wireless capability. The Linksys EA4500 supports dual-band Wireless N, and I am happy to report that the wireless signal is much more stable in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands than its predecessor, the Linksys E4200. Where that old router's speeds within the 5 GHz spectrum jumped wildly on all the devices I had that support that band, all of my devices that use it stay solidly near or at the maximum speeds for their adapters with the EA4500. I have two Linksys USB adapters that support the 5 GHz range (AE1000 and AE2500) and both stay at 300 Mbps. My laptop's internal wireless card stays at 96 Mbps, which is the best I've ever seen it get and is why I use the Linksys AE2500 adapter on it instead). My Belkin adapter connects and remains at 155.5 Mbps. My netbook's internal wireless NIC remains reliably at 300 Mbps. At the end of this review, I have provided a full list of the network devices I currently use on my network in case any of you have the same device and need to know if they work well with this router.
The router also includes a guest access feature, which is very common with today's routers. Guest Access allows you to configure a `separate' network from your main network. When you have guests over that need internet access, you can allow them to connect to the guest network. Guest access restricts them to internet only, and prevents them from being able to access any of the resources on your network such as shared files, etc. Be warned that guest access will also keep them from using wireless printers on your main network.
The range for the wireless networks is great. There isn't a device in my house that isn't reporting Very Good or Excellent connectivity with it, no matter the location. Speedboost is supposed to increase signal strength across long distances so that you have better range and speed in your home. Having not found a weak spot in my home yet, I think this feature must be working well.
As for security, this router offers several options that let you be as lax or as strict about security as you choose to be. Being in the IT industry myself, I am a stickler for security. I don't want anyone on my network unless I choose to allow them. One, I work from home often and as a Systems Engineer for a Systems Integration Company, I am subject to the regulations that my customers are and need to protect both their data and their networks from being compromised through my network or computers. I also don't want my own data comprised, but in addition to data security, I don't even want friendly neighbors hopping on without my permission. Comcast, as most ISPs do now, has a limit on how much bandwidth you can use each month. If you consistently go over that limit, then your service could be cancelled.
To protect my network, I employee three security features: MAC Address Filtering, WPA2/WPA, and I hide my SSID (or network name) instead of visibly broadcasting it. While a determined and talented hacker might be able to break any one of these security features, the chances they'll break all of them are slim, and the average home user is probably not going to be targeted by a hacker of the caliber needed to do that.
MAC Address Filtering lets you either allow all of the MAC Addresses that you have specified permission to access your network, or you can choose to deny specific MAC addresses access. The configuration for this is easy to do and works well.
Hiding your SSID is also easy - just a quick radio button and save. This prevents users in range of your wireless router from even seeing it in their list of available networks. You can still configure it yourself by either manually entering the network name and other settings or using the WPA Setup button. You can also broadcast your network just long enough to get your devices configured easily, and then turn off the broadcasting afterwards.
WPA or WPA2 is the encryption type most routers employ today and is much more secure than the old WEP encryption was. Cisco Connect will configure the router for WPA2/WPA by default, but you can configure the router to use an alternate encryption type if you need to. Those options include WPA2/WPA, WPA2 Personal, WPA Personal, WPA2/WPA Enterprise Mixed Mode, WPA2 Enterprise, WPA Enterprise, or WEP. If you have older client network adapters in your network, it is likely they will not support any of the WPA or WPA2 options but will work with WEP. However, I highly recommend that you upgrade any WEP-only network cards with newer ones supporting WPA2/WPA for better security.
I mentioned the Cisco Connect software before when I discussed the installation, but this utility is used for management of the router after the installation as well. The average home user will prefer to use Cisco Connect to do what they can as its wizard-based functions walk them through each option. More experienced users like me, however, will appreciate the Advanced Configuration available by accessing the router through a web browser.
What I don't like about the Cisco Connect software is that it seems to need the admin password for the router to be the same as the network password. I might not necessarily want all users that need to access my network to have admin access. Even more of a security risk to me is the fact that the Cisco Connect software displays that password in its main screen, so anyone who has access to a PC with the Cisco Connect software for your router installed can easily get that password by launching the program. That said, in order to connect Cisco Connect to your router, you do have to run the installation from the Easy Setup Key that you create with Cisco Connect, so it isn't like anyone can download it from the Linksys website and point it to your router easily, although I'm certain someone determined and knowledgeable could find a way.
As for the Easy Setup Key, it does allow for installation of the Cisco Connect software on other machines and it also allows for automated configuration of network adapters to connect to your network. You need a small USB key to create the Easy Setup Key and you will either be walked through it at the end of the initial setup or you can return to the Cisco Connect control panel to do this later.
You can also configure clients for the wireless network using the Wi-Fi Protected Setup feature. If your client machine's network adapter supports that technology, you simply start the configuration on the client, press the Wi-Fi Protected Setup either on the back of the router or within the Advanced Configuration of the router using your web browser, and the two devices connect. No need to give the user your network password or have to manually enter settings, or even run the Easy Setup Key on that machine. I would recommend that this option be used for configuration of new client machines whenever possible to preserve the security of your passwords. It is important to note that you CAN disable the WPS feature in the Advanced Configuration should you need to.
Most users will want this router because it is capable of Wireless N speeds, but this router does still support the b/g/n standards as well for backwards compatibility with older network adapters.
I detailed some things I don't like about the Cisco Connect utility, but I should mention what I really do like. This tool has the ability to test download and upload speeds for your internet service between the router and the modem. This is a very good troubleshooting tool when you are trying to ferret out where your internet speed is being bogged down. By testing it on the router itself, you can easily determine if the issue warrants a call to your internet provider or if it is a problem within your own network.
What home router would be complete without Parental Controls? This one allows you to limit specified computers from accessing certain website or you can even set up a schedule designating when a PC is allowed to use the internet. So, if you want to prevent the kids from browsing the world wide web until you are home from work, it is easy to set up.
With the increasing presence of HD devices and media in our homes, streaming movies and shows, transferring videos over your network, all of it takes a toll because the HD file sizes are so much larger than standard definition. So far, my Roku has been able to stream HD shows from Amazon's video streaming service very well - not a single hiccup.
This router also includes an option to use it as a DLNA media server. If you attach a USB hard drive to the router, you can specify a folder with supported media types like music files, movies, etc. Then you simply enable the Media Server option within the router so that devices on your network that support DLNA can access the supported files on the hard drive attached to your router. As more and more of our music and movies become digital, this is becoming a more important feature than ever.
Cisco will be implementing a new feature with this router in the Summer of 2012 called "Cisco Connect Cloud". Although this feature is not yet available, they say that we will be able to get "new apps and capabilities to enrich your connected lifestyle." I'm excited to discover what that means and will be looking forward to that implementation. I'll update this review when the feature has been implemented and I've explored it.
This router does support both IPv4 and IPv6 so it should work with whichever protocol your ISP currently uses. Mine is still on IPV4, and I can attest to it working well with this older protocol. Until Comcast upgrades me to the IPV6, however, I can only state that the IPV6 is supported, but I cannot test it myself.
All in all, this router is leaps and bounds above any of the Linksys routers (or their competitor Belkin) that I have used for years. At this point, I would highly recommend the Linksys EA4500 router to someone looking for a stable, fast, high-end router with a decent range and great speeds. I would give it 4.5 stars if Amazon supported half stars, but am giving it 4 since they do not. The only thing I am counting off on is the somewhat lax security I described with the Cisco Connect utility.
Wired Devices connected to my network: Ooma Telo Free Home Phone Service NETGEAR ReadyNAS Duo 2-Bay 500 GB (1 x 500 GB) Network Attached Storage RND2150 TRENDnet 8-Port Unmanaged Gigabit GREENnet Standard Switch (8 x 10/100/1000Mbps) Seagate BlackArmor NAS 110 1 TB Network Attached Storage ST310005MNA10G-RK Pogoplug Mobile Desktop PC
To set the stage for my review, all of my wireless access points are 802.11n (I've been upgrading over the years) with some being dual-band, and my wireless router for the past two or so years has been a Qwest Actiontec Q1000. The Actiontec broadcasts all 802.11 protocols like this Linksys, but the two differences are that it works over a single 2.4GHz band and does not allow a USB device to be attached and accessed over the network. I wanted to see if the second band at 5GHz would increase my throughput. I use wireless for both internet access (on a ~25 Mbps network speed) and streaming HD video to my PS3 (which is wired to an 802.11n access point).
Overall, I think that this is a good router with good performance. I can't compare this against any of the other routers available today, but the following might help you make your decision.
SETUP Initial, basic setup was incredibly easy. Just follow the instructions in the box (load the included CD, plug in the router, run the software) and things should work smoothly. Advanced setup (such as not broadcasting your network SSID, running two different networks from the two bands, running 802.11n only) was a bit more time consuming for me because there were no included instructions on how to do it. There is a good manual available in PDF form on the manufacturer's website (it just took me a while to find it) that includes recommendations on improving performance and talks about how to set things up. I wish that they would have at least included the link to it in the box (maybe they did, but I didn't see it). As an aside, the browser-based setup on the Actiontec is a lot more graphically refined and a bit easier to use, IMO, than the browser-based setup on the Linksys.
SPEED With my Actiontec, I was achieving wireless speeds around 70 Mbps. After hooking up the Linksys and going through the setup, my speeds were also around 70 Mbps. So, whatever is limiting my Actiontec is also limiting the Linksys. I had hoped that the newer design, better antennas, or dual-band would have boosted it. However, it is no worse and is still plenty fast for my needs. The online manual recommends splitting the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands into two networks for increased performance, which I did. I still have yet to see if that provides me with overall better performance (as I'm surfing the web on my laptop over 2.4GHz while streaming video to my PS3 over 5GHz).
NETWORK DRIVE I connected a USB drive to the Linksys and am able to access it from my PC and from my Mac. This is my first network drive, so it took me a while to figure out how to map it to both - but once I did, it worked smoothly. Unlike another reviewer, I could see the entire contents of the drive from both computers. I had messed around with the router settings for sharing the drive before I figured out how to map it, so that might have done something, but I'm pretty sure that I ended up with the original settings when it was all done. I do wish that my PS3 could see the drive, but if I understand correctly, I would need to step up to the EA4500 for the DNLA support.
MAC TIME CAPSULE I tried running the network drive as a Time Capsule drive with my MacBook that is running Lion. Unfortunately, I received an error like many Lion owners that the drive doesn't support a newly imposed protocol. Perhaps a firmware update will allow it to work with Lion, but for now, it won't. Older Mac OS's might work with it, though. Linksys doesn't advertise that it will work with Lion Time Capsule, so I'm not upset - I had just hoped that it would.
APP ENABLED I might be missing something, but I think that this just refers to the app available for Android and iOS devices to control the router. I downloaded it to my iPad and checked it out. It works just fine with this model and allows you to change some settings.
Pros: - Dual-band that can be set up as two separate wireless networks (one on the 2.4GHz band and one on the 5GHz band) - Four gigabit ports for wired connections - Sleek hardware design with all antennas being internal (the Actiontec antennas are externally attached)
On my wish list: - Updated firmware to make it compatible with Mac OS X Lion in regards to using an attached USB drive as a Time Capsule drive - Inclusion of the user manual on the CD, or inclusion of a link in the box as to where it is located on their website - Mounting holes, or an included base stand, to mount it vertically to free up some desk space - A more refined browser-based setup