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202 of 218 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Giant leap from a D-Link DIR-655
[See 1/21/14 Update below]

As noted above, I upgraded from a D-Link DIR-655 router, which was a good piece of kit and did its job well, but this EA4500 is more than an incremental improvement.

SET UP
I'm fairly tech savvy, so I'm not afraid of a challenge, but this thing coddled me like I was an AOL user and just got the job done...
Published on April 11, 2012 by G. Haney

versus
631 of 675 people found the following review helpful
The manufacturer commented on the review below
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware of the firmware upgrade for this router
I have had this router now for quite a while and it was working flawlessly, I had it set up exactly how I wanted it. I absolutely LOVED this router.
Unfortunately this all changed on 6/26/2012 when Cisco took it upon themselves to basically FORCE an install of their new firmware which enables their Cisco Cloud Connect service. My device was set to not do updates...
Published 22 months ago by markdr


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The manufacturer commented on the review belowSee comments
631 of 675 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware of the firmware upgrade for this router, June 27, 2012
This review is from: Linksys EA4500 App-Enabled N900 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router with Gigabit and USB (Personal Computers)
I have had this router now for quite a while and it was working flawlessly, I had it set up exactly how I wanted it. I absolutely LOVED this router.
Unfortunately this all changed on 6/26/2012 when Cisco took it upon themselves to basically FORCE an install of their new firmware which enables their Cisco Cloud Connect service. My device was set to not do updates automatically and yet the router became inactive and after a reboot it received this new firmware update from Cisco without my acknowledgement. This service makes you log into an external server to access your routers settings. There was no option given by Cisco to either use or not use the Cloud, and we were not notified that this firmware update was going to be installed without our knowledge or desire for that matter.
The new firmware apparently can be removed if you call Cisco technical support, but they will advise you that the firmware on your router is no longer supported (the router is only 3 months old, so basically they trashed the original software and wont support you if you use it).
The new firmware is very buggy and reports my internet connectin is down when it clearly isnt. You no longer have direct access to your router even from within your own network. I believe this to be a security risk potential.
Unfortunately the new GUI is unfamiliar and not very intuitive at all.
If you would like to purchase this router as a set it and forget it device its fine. If you are a more advanced user, look elsewhere as they are dumbing the interface down, creating a security risk, and disallowing you from actually connecting to your router in any meaningful fashion from within your own network unless you first log into the Cisco servers with your email address and a password.
This firmware was pushed to current users of this device without our knowledge or consent, leaving me to be very leary of future Cisco endevours for the home. If you have an advanced home network or want greater flexibility in things such as forwarding ports and other advanced options, look elsewhere. .This new, mandatory firmware is too buggy and to risky to be of any good use.
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stem
The manufacturer commented on this review(What's this?)
Posted on Jul 16, 2012 11:10:34 AM PDT
Linksys says:
(MANUFACTURER)
Thank you for your post. Pasquale, you are correct, we have already addressed the issues raised in this post. The changes we made, as you experienced, give our customers a clearer choice in when and if they decide to upgrade their firmware. For those interested in the facts about the product and service please read on. Otherwise have a great day.

markdr - Thank you for initiating your post, we hope the changes and clarifications will allow your pleasant experience to continue.

Linksys customers are not required to sign-up for the Cisco Connect Cloud service and they are able to opt-out of signing up for an account
Cisco Connect Cloud is an optional service that brings additional features to a home network. It is not required to set-up and manage Cisco Linksys EA Series routers. In response to our customers' concerns, we have simplified the process for opting-out of the Cisco Connect Cloud service and have changed the default setting back to traditional router set-up and management.

Customers can set-up and manage their Linksys router without signing up for a Cisco Connect Cloud account
If a customer chooses not to set up a Cisco Connect Cloud account, they can manage their router with the current local management software. We are committed to providing both Cloud-enabled and local management software. Customers who have already signed up for a Cisco Connect Cloud account may stay with the service and enjoy the expanded features, or can revert back to the local management software by calling the Linksys customer support line at 1-800-326-7114 or by http://www6.nohold.net/Cisco2/ukp.aspx?pid=80&login=1&app=search&vw=1&articleid=25856&donelr=1

Cisco will not arbitrarily disconnect customers from the Cisco Connect Cloud service based on how they are using the Internet.
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, and we will clarify this in an update to the terms of service.

Cisco Linksys routers are not used to collect information about Internet usage.
Cisco's Linksys routers do not track or store any personal information regarding customers' use of the Internet.

Cisco only retains information that is necessary to sign up for and support the Cisco Connect Cloud service
If a customer signs up for the Cisco Connect Cloud service, they are asked to provide a new username, a password, and an email address, which is required to set up the account. When the customer sets up a Cisco Connect Cloud account, they are asked to provide a local administrative password for the EA Series router to associate it with a Cisco Connect Cloud account. Cisco does not store this local administrative password.
To reiterate, even when a customer signs up for a Cisco Connect Cloud account, Cisco does not track or store any personal information regarding a customer's usage of the Internet.

Cisco will not push software updates to customers' Linksys routers when the auto-update setting is turned off.
Cisco will only push software updates to a Linksys router when the auto-update option is selected. We will clarify this in an update to our documentation.
Once again, I sincerely apologize on behalf of the Cisco team for the inconvenience we have caused. Cisco is committed to the privacy and security of our customers, and I assure you we will update our terms of service and related documentation as quickly as possible to accurately reflect our company policy and values.

Is Cisco Connect Cloud secure?
The security of the network and protecting user data is always our top priority. NONE of the router settings are stored in the cloud - they still remain on the router and only the username and password are stored to allow for remote connectivity. We take your security very seriously and have gone to great lengths to ensure your information and connected home devices are safe and secure.
Here are the security details:

Validating the user
* We validate the user through double verification of their email account. This double verification process proves to us that the user owns the email account supplied during account setup.
* We validate the network. When setting up your Cisco Connect Cloud account, you must supply the router password when you are connected to that network, behind their router.
* Only when these two elements are satisfied will the unique ID of the router be sent to Cisco Connect Cloud for pairing with the account.

Secure communications
* Communication with the cloud is encrypted and secure.
* Both your web browser and the router establish connections to the Cisco Connect Cloud infrastructure over a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), the same security you use when connecting to online bank accounts.
* Cisco Connect Cloud connections to the router are managed using Transport Layer Security (TLS), a secure bi-directional tunnel for information similar to SSL.
* Privacy Settings - Cisco Connect Cloud does not actively track, collect or store personal info or usage data for any other purposes, nor is it transmitted to third parties. The only information stored in the cloud are the following:
i. The email address you registered for your Cisco Connect Cloud (CCC) account
ii. Your first and last name
iii. SHA-256 encrypted password
iv. Your router's model number
v. Your router's hardware version
vi. Your router's firmware version
vii. Your router's serial number

For more information, please visit the following link:
http://www6.nohold.net/Cisco2/ukp.aspx?vw=1&articleid=25865&kptester=1

Will Cisco support the local management access?
Cisco will continue to support both local and cloud management options for our customers.

Should you have any question or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Technical support at 1-800-326-7114
 
 

202 of 218 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Giant leap from a D-Link DIR-655, April 11, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Linksys EA4500 App-Enabled N900 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router with Gigabit and USB (Personal Computers)
[See 1/21/14 Update below]

As noted above, I upgraded from a D-Link DIR-655 router, which was a good piece of kit and did its job well, but this EA4500 is more than an incremental improvement.

SET UP
I'm fairly tech savvy, so I'm not afraid of a challenge, but this thing coddled me like I was an AOL user and just got the job done.

It's an extremely easy set up. It sniffs for your internet connection, sets it up, and basically gets itself comfortable and up and running with very little need for anything from you. Heck, I used the same SSID as my prior router and many devices (like my Tivo, iPhones, and Macbooks) connected to it like there had been no change in router. If it weren't for a pain-in-the-butt webcam, I would have been fully set up within 15 minutes. The other 4 hours were purely the fault of my Foscam (and only related to setting up that device)!

Back to comparisons with my DIR-655:

SPEED/THROUGHPUT - Per either the router app's built in speed tester (very cool, as is the automatic firmware upgrade option, if desired) or speedtest.net, I went from something like and average of 25 over 10 Mbps to 43 over 25 Mpbs. Finally, efficient use of my advertised Verizon FiOS connection!

RANGE - Our house is about 1600 square feet, but it was built in 1942, meaning plaster and other Frankenstein structural components abound. My DIR-655 was barely making it to the middle and back of the house (router is in the front) with a serviceable connection, such that my wife (who is typically in middle or back and was losing connection) was very frustrated at times. Based on my speedtests on her computer in other parts of the house, I don't think she'll be cursing our network anymore. So far so good. Also, that cursed (just in terms of set up) Foscam webacam is showing a much better video feed both in the house and via remote view on port forwarding. That was an unexpected bonus.

SOFTWARE - Cisco/Linksys are definitely trying to make it an easy/pleasant experience to manage the router, but I (and I'm sure many others who would use a piece of kit like this) won't to go beyond the glossy top level management app. So I was pleased to see that I could indeed jump over to a much more detailed device management interface, much like you'd see with the DIR-655 or other routers. I'm still getting used to the different menus, but it looks like just about everything is there. I'm having a hard time finding the status/MAC address/etc. of all connected devices (such that I had to use a separate IP sniffer when setting up the webcam) but I have to believe it's there somewhere!

Overall, it was absolutely money well spent to move up to this device. Will try to remember to follow up after I've used it for a couple months.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
[JANUARY 21, 2014 UPDATE]

Okay, sorry, that was more than a couple months! Well, I must admit that I have since gone to the Dark (Knight) side. Things weren't as rock solid after a while (I'd say about a year into owning this router), i.e. we were back to my wife complaining of a "slow computer" (which always means internet access and speed) from the back rooms of the house, furthest from the router. After tinkering with the router, and realizing there wasn't much I could do aside from moving it to a more central location(not that feasible), I felt I owed it to her to look around at options a bit more, and decided to try the ASUS RT-N66U (http://amzn.com/B006QB1RPY) due to: (i) it's cult status and (ii) the open source nature/hackability of its firmware. I must admit that I fell in love with the ASUS pretty quickly and, after having it as long as, if not longer than, the Linksys, it remains rock solid with no wifi speed/connectivity (especially if I stick to 2.4GHz in the back rooms). This is really more about my fickleness and desire to try new/different tech than a knock on the Linksys (which I still have and will use in some support capacity some day, most likely), but there is no doubt that the ASUS ended up a much better solution for my needs, and I am sure the AC version of the ASUS router will be my next purchase, when I have the need.
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234 of 267 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comparing the Linksys EA4500 to the Netgear WNDR4500, May 5, 2012
This review is from: Linksys EA4500 App-Enabled N900 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router with Gigabit and USB (Personal Computers)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Update May 24, 2012:
###############

Netgear is about to release the R6300 based on the 802.11ac VHT spec which promises Gigabit wireless speeds, making wireless HD video streaming a reality. (See the comments section for a tutorial on the 802.11n specification and all this Nxxx business.)

What does this mean to someone looking for a new router?

It means that the phrase "top of the line router" just got redefined, and the answer of which router to choose just got a bit more complicated.

However, I'd still recommend the WNDR4500 because (a) the 802.11ac spec isn't yet final; (b) there aren't any adapters that can take advantage of all that extra bandwidth (remember the cost of high bandwidth is not just at the router - you have to spend big bucks at each device's adapter to get maximum benefits); and most importantly (c) unless you are an early adopter whose Pavlovian response just kicked in, do you really have the time/desire to be a beta tester for a brand new implementation? (Waiting for a few firmware updates to blow through tends to do wonders for one's sanity).

Original Review:
###########

I recently had a chance to compare the Netgear WNDR4500 and the Cisco EA4500 - both top of the line consumer grade routers that are brimming over with the latest features.

Since there is very little difference in their feature sets, I am going to try and answer a more important question:
Which router is the better choice as the centerpiece of a home network?

In a nutshell: The WNDR4500 was the clear winner for me - at the farthest usage point from my router, through multiple walls and floors, it not only provided a stronger signal, but also provided twice the throughput as the EA4500.

Test setup:
########
(1) I used inSSIDer to measure signal strength at my receiver, and iPerf to measure the network's throughput.
(2) To focus purely on the router's throughput, I hardwired the server host to my router, and turned off all other network hosts except my test wireless client.
(3) I tested in the 2.4 GHz band because (a) it is the most relevant band in our home, and (b) it is the most challenging for any router
(4) I took measurements at 3 locations - right next to my router, at the farthest point (my fitness area), and at a mid point (my entertainment center).

Note that for throughput measurements, I did not use speedtest.net - as measurements can be skewed by factors outside of the router's control (such as a congested neighborhood backbone). Similarly, I did not perform file copying - as this can be skewed by NAS/drive performance.

Test Results:
#########

The two measures of interest are:
(1) the throughput - i.e. how many bits can this router actively pump through our network, measured here in Mbps (millions of bits per second).
The higher the throughput, the better your network experience, especially while streaming video content.

For the near, farther, and farthest positions:
-- the Cisco AE4500 delivered throughput rates in Mbps of 36.5/20.9/9.5
-- the WNDR4500 delivered throughput rates in Mbps of 27.2/24.4/20.1

(2) the Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) which is a measure of the signal strength at the receiver.
The higher the RSSI, the stronger your signal, and so the better the chance that you will be able to receive content from your router. Remember that these are negative numbers, so -58 is actually a stronger signal than -65.

For the near, farther, and farthest positions:
-- the Cisco AE4500 delivered RSSIs of -48/-58/-65 respectively.
-- the WNDR4500 delivered RSSIs of -46/-53/-58 respectively.

In my tests, the WNDR4500 provided nearly constant throughput across the extent of our home (24 Mbps average), and its strong RSSI showing even at the farthest point in our home, was instrumental in subduing our neighbor's rather aggressive router.

Other Thoughts:
###########

1. You can't go wrong with either router when it comes to features.
In addition to the fastest rating - 450 Mbps on both the 2.4GHz and 5 GHz bands, you get DHCP Address Reservation, a Stateful Packet Inspection firewall, Dynamic DNS configuration, Guest networks, Port forwarding and triggering (AE4500's interface is better), QoS configuration, etc.

2. The vertical form factor of the WNDR4500 takes up very little desk space.

3. While the web interfaces of both routers are usable, the WNDR4500's is slightly better because of how it segregates Basic and Advanced functionality.

4. The WNDR4500 not only supports guest networks on both bands (2.4 and 5GHz), but also provides awesome control over what a guest device can do. E.g., you can limit it to only accessing the Internet. The AE4500 does not allow such control and only supports a single guest network on the 2.4GHz band.

5. The EA4500 hosts one USB port, whereas the WNDR4500 supports two.

6. The EA4500 can act as a FTP server (I didn't try this out) - but the WNDR4500 cannot.

7. The WNDR4500 can be configured for use as a wireless repeater, allowing a wireless signal's range to be extended.

8. I did not use the bundled software. See the comments for easy steps to set up a router without installing another piece of software.

9. The WNDR lights up like a Christmas tree, giving a nice sense of well-being. The AE4500 is more staid with a single glowing logo.

Conclusion:
########

More than anything else, the key characteristics of a router are:
(a) its ability to maintain high throughput over its coverage area,
(b) the ability to maintain a solid stable connection with its clients
(c) the ease with which it can be configured, and
(d) solid security options (see my first comment for tips here).

On all four counts, the WNDR4500 comes up aces.

I'd caution against the following marketing features, which I personally do not use (of course, YMMV):

1) USB printing - quite an anachronism with most printers being wireless.

2) Heavy client applications like Netgear's Genie or Cisco's Connect are unnecessary. I'd rather they focused on making the web interface more user friendly, as Netgear is doing.

3) Configuring a router over a phone might possibly be the most inane feature invented. Yes, I'm talking about you, Cisco Connect Cloud.

4) USB drive support is usually neither as performant as a dedicated NAS solution; nor is the remote access web interface as simple as using a cloud client such as Dropbox. However, the convenience it presents may argue in its favor.

Final Word:
########
If you are considering the WNDR4500, I would also point you at my review of the Netgear N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router - Premium Edition (WNDR3800) - which brings features such as Clear Channel to the party, but at the cost of speed. The WNDR3800 is a very capable router and should be on your list of routers to consider.

Happy Networking!
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66 of 74 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do Not Buy Any Linksys App-Enabled Wireless Router!!!, July 3, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Linksys EA4500 App-Enabled N900 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router with Gigabit and USB (Personal Computers)
I give the EA4500 1 star (should be minus 5 stars) due to Cisco's new policy and not the device.

I give Amazon 5 stars each for their shipping and return policy.

I purchased the EA4500 mainly for the ability to share a storage device and to upgrade the wireless portion of my internal network. First I would like to state that I have been Cisco certified and that I already use a Cisco "ASA 5505" for my firewall. I configured the EA4500 in the "Bridged" mode and not for firewall protection.

One week after I received it I upgraded the firmware. Much to my surprise and without warning from Cisco the new firmware required a Cisco Connect Cloud account to be able to log into it. You have to log into Cisco so they can log you into your own device. To be fair, you can log into the EA4500 by isolating it from the Internet. However, the menu system no longer displays certain menus such as the App Enabled portion of the device.

After talking to Cisco's support people (3 different departments over 2 days) they tried to justify their actions by telling me it was for my own good. You cannot downgrade the firmware as Cisco does not provide any firmware for the EA4500 on their support website. Upgrades are done only through the EA4500. Also, the menu no longer has the option to go back to the previous firmware (which you cannot download the firmware anyway). At this point I returned it to Amazon for a full refund.

If you are wondering why this is a concern to me then you need to read the "Cisco Connect Cloud Account Terms of Service". The terms of service for a Connect Cloud account grant Cisco full rights to all of your network traffic, and the rights to pass that traffic to anyone. That requires you to agree to let Cisco spy on you if you want to use the full capability of the EA4500.

If Cisco was smart they would have included the ability to "Opt Out" and retain the configuration menu for people that don't want it. Not force it down our throats without warning.

I advise everyone to stay away from Linksys App-Enabled Wireless Routers until Cisco corrects their huge blunder.
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72 of 83 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Powerful router is easy to set up and much more stable than its predecessors, April 26, 2012
This review is from: Linksys EA4500 App-Enabled N900 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router with Gigabit and USB (Personal Computers)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
**Updated 12/4/2013**

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.

**Original Review**

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.

Wireless Devices connected to my network:
HP dv4-1140go laptop
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE 10.1-Inch Black Netbook - 9.5 Hour Battery Life
2 Roku 2 XS 1080p Streaming Player
HTC EVO 3D 4G Android Phone, Black (Sprint)
Cisco-Linksys AE1000 High-Performance Wireless-N Adapter
Linksys AE2500 Dual-Band Wireless-N USB Adapter
Belkin B004N625B4
2 TiVo AN0100 Wireless N Network Adapter (Gray)
TiVo AG0100 Wireless G USB Network Adapter for TiVo Series 2 and Series 3 DVRs
Pandigital Planet Android 2.2 2 GB 7-Inch Multimedia Tablet and Color eReader with Kindle, R70A200FR (Black)
Magellan RoadMate 5175T-LM GPS navigator
Logitech Squeezebox Boom All-in-One Network Music Player / Wi-Fi Internet Radio
Lexmark 4800 Series Printer
HTC Imagio Phone

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
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The manufacturer commented on the review belowSee comments
91 of 108 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 06/26/12 Cisco Connect Cloud Firmware -- Data Mining, Security, Crippled Router, June 26, 2012
By 
Thiggy (Florida USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Linksys EA4500 App-Enabled N900 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router with Gigabit and USB (Personal Computers)
Automatic firmware update on 06/26/12 which adds Cisco Connect Cloud makes this router a poor choice for those who manage their router settings manually and also removes security features including the ability to disable wireless SSID broadcast and Unsecured Guest broadcast if you choose not to register for Cisco Connect Cloud. In addition, there is no opt-out of terms which includes tracking Internet history -- data mining. If you do not agree to sign up terms for Cisco Connect Cloud, the router will be crippled. The new firmware attempts to force online registration for Cisco Connect Cloud while connected to the Internet. An attempt to manually access your router at 192.168.1.1 will persistently redirect you to the online Connect Could registration page. Manual settings can be accessed if you disconnect from the Internet -- however, you will be presented with a sub-par firmware interface with limited configuration.

Mid July 2012 update: Cisco pushed firmware allowing local configuration after all the public uproar regarding the above.
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stem
The manufacturer commented on this review(What's this?)
Posted on Jul 16, 2012 11:04:06 AM PDT
Linksys says:
(MANUFACTURER)
Dear Thiggy and commenters,

Although long, we wanted to list out for you the current facts regarding this situation and your product. The statements below are fact, not speculation. We hope you'll appreciate the corrections and clarifications that we've made about the product and service. Although this is stated below, given the passion around the privacy topic, I thought it useful to state this fact here as well, "Cisco Linksys routers are not used to collect information about internet usage. They do not track or store any personal information regarding customers' use of the internet".

Linksys customers are not required to sign-up for the Cisco Connect Cloud service and they are able to opt-out of signing up for an account
Cisco Connect Cloud is an optional service that brings additional features to a home network. It is not required to set-up and manage Cisco Linksys EA Series routers. In response to our customers' concerns, we have simplified the process for opting-out of the Cisco Connect Cloud service and have changed the default setting back to traditional router set-up and management.

Customers can set-up and manage their Linksys router without signing up for a Cisco Connect Cloud account
If a customer chooses not to set up a Cisco Connect Cloud account, they can manage their router with the current local management software. We are committed to providing both Cloud-enabled and local management software. Customers who have already signed up for a Cisco Connect Cloud account may stay with the service and enjoy the expanded features, or can revert back to the local management software by calling the Linksys customer support line at 1-800-326-7114 or by http://www6.nohold.net/Cisco2/ukp.aspx?pid=80&login=1&app=search&vw=1&articleid=25856&donelr=1

Cisco will not arbitrarily disconnect customers from the Cisco Connect Cloud service based on how they are using the Internet
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, and we will clarify this in an update to the terms of service.

Cisco Linksys routers are not used to collect information about Internet usage
Cisco's Linksys routers do not track or store any personal information regarding customers' use of the Internet.

Cisco only retains information that is necessary to sign up for and support the Cisco Connect Cloud service
If a customer signs up for the Cisco Connect Cloud service, they are asked to provide a new username, a password, and an email address, which is required to set up the account. When the customer sets up a Cisco Connect Cloud account, they are asked to provide a local administrative password for the EA Series router to associate it with a Cisco Connect Cloud account. Cisco does not store this local administrative password.
To reiterate, even when a customer signs up for a Cisco Connect Cloud account, Cisco does not track or store any personal information regarding a customer's usage of the Internet. Cisco will not push software updates to customers' Linksys routers when the auto-update setting is turned off.

Cisco will only push software updates to a Linksys router when the auto-update option is selected. We will clarify this in an update to our documentation
Once again, I sincerely apologize on behalf of the Cisco team for the inconvenience we have caused. Cisco is committed to the privacy and security of our customers, and I assure you we will update our terms of service and related documentation as quickly as possible to accurately reflect our company policy and values.

Is Cisco Connect Cloud secure?
The security of the network and protecting user data is always our top priority. NONE of the router settings are stored in the cloud - they still remain on the router and only the username and password are stored to allow for remote connectivity. We take your security very seriously and have gone to great lengths to ensure your information and connected home devices are safe and secure.
Here are the security details:

Validating the user
* We validate the user through double verification of their email account. This double verification process proves to us that the user owns the email account supplied during account setup.
* We validate the network. When setting up your Cisco Connect Cloud account, you must supply the router password when you are connected to that network, behind their router.
* Only when these two elements are satisfied will the unique ID of the router be sent to Cisco Connect Cloud for pairing with the account.

Secure communications
* Communication with the cloud is encrypted and secure.
* Both your web browser and the router establish connections to the Cisco Connect Cloud infrastructure over a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), the same security you use when connecting to online bank accounts.
* Cisco Connect Cloud connections to the router are managed using Transport Layer Security (TLS), a secure bi-directional tunnel for information similar to SSL.
* Privacy Settings - Cisco Connect Cloud does not actively track, collect or store personal info or usage data for any other purposes, nor is it transmitted to third parties. The only information stored in the cloud are the following:
i. The email address you registered for your Cisco Connect Cloud (CCC) account
ii. Your first and last name
iii. SHA-256 encrypted password
iv. Your router's model number
v. Your router's hardware version
vi. Your router's firmware version
vii. Your router's serial number
For more information, please visit the following link:
http://www6.nohold.net/Cisco2/ukp.aspx?vw=1&articleid=25865&kptester=1

Will Cisco support the local management access?
Cisco will continue to support both local and cloud management options for our customers.

Should you have any question or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Technical support at 1-800-326-7114
 
 

53 of 62 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great router RUINED BY CISCO CONNECT CLOUD, June 29, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Linksys EA4500 App-Enabled N900 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router with Gigabit and USB (Personal Computers)
I've had this router about 45 days and has worked great UNTIL Cisco/Linksys moved to a new FW version (v2.1.+) that now implements the "Cisco Connect Cloud." What this means is that in order for you to access your OWN router, you have to register through the Cisco Connect Cloud and abide to their terms and conditions which include DATA MINING, INTERNET HISTORY BROWSING and a bunch of other agreement terms. Once you do this, you can THEN access your router.

The only way around this is if you disconnect your internet access. Once you do this, it will prompt you for your router password and you can login. HOWEVER, it is extremely crippled and you CANNOT access many of your features like you had before. For example, I cannot access any of my MAC filtering for my WIFI w/out internet access! Seriously! And additionally, a back door through this new front end was already discovered where people can login to your router w/OUT a password. This is essentially a complete "front door" to your home network which is NEVER a good practice.

I've contacted Cisco/Linksys and awaiting for their "tech" department to call me back. Thankfully, you STILL have access to upload the previous version of fw (v2.0.+ and lower) in the crippled state so I was able to revert back and DISABLE the auto-updating of FW for the router.

If Cisco/Linksys doesn't give us an opt out within a few days, I am seeking a return and full refund for my router and going BACK to NetGear. CISCO CONNECT CLOUD is a TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE idea - STAY AWAY!!
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The manufacturer commented on the review belowSee comments
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars June 26 forced upgrade means 1 star, June 27, 2012
This review is from: Linksys EA4500 App-Enabled N900 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router with Gigabit and USB (Personal Computers)
My original review is below, in which I state that if someone shows me how to bypass what I see as a security concern, I would change my review to 5 stars. I was then provided this link by Cisco ([...]) which has directions and links to what they call the "Classic" firmware. So I am changing my review to 5 stars but suggest anyone who is interested in this router and has concerns about security, to read the review and comments.

--------------------

I just bought this router. It is one of the new "A" versions (for application enabled). Overall the performance is as expected, the ability to have a guest account is nice. No more sharing my password/network with weekend guests...they can connect to the internet without connecting to my network. Also range is better than my old router.

I did not use the setup application that was provided because I am familiar with the old linksys setup pages, so I browsed to 192.168.1.1 and set it up manually, it was quick and easy.

Now the caveat: Yesterday the router received a forced upgrade from cisco. Now when I try to change the settings (i.e. guest password, etc.), the router forces me to setup a cisco account to access my router. Once I setup the account it needed my router admin password to continue. Essentially what this means is to change settings on this router, you must log into a cisco account and give them your router admin password. cisco says this allows them to provide a bunch of features, like remote access to my home network.

Great, all I need is my router IP address and password on someone else's database so someone (hopefully only me, but who knows?) can access my home network. I can't look at this thing now without worrying about how cisco is going to safeguard my info. I have looked around for information on it and come up with marketing info only, no security related information. I am returning it for a router with less security concerns.

I did find out you can get around giving cisco your router admin password. You disconnect the internet from the WAN port, then you can log in directly. Unfortunately it doesn't let you change many settings, it is too limited to be of much use, and a pain to disconnect the internet connection.

So, if you are the type to think companies like cisco have databases that won't get hacked, or you don't worry that someone has access to your home network, it seems like a good router. If you are the type to worry about others having your passwords and ability to access your home network, I suggest not getting the "A" version of cisco products.

I'll change my rating to 5 stars if someone explains to me how I can get around having to have a cisco account to use this router.
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stem
The manufacturer commented on this review(What's this?)
Posted on Jul 16, 2012 11:14:26 AM PDT
Linksys says:
(MANUFACTURER)
William, we hope by now you've been able to setup your router in the way you desire......you noted you were not able to find the process to use your router without a cloud account. In case you are still having trouble, pasted at the end of this comment are the facts regarding your product. To address your last statement "getting around having a Cisco account to use this router". Here is the link to that will enable you to continue enjoying your product without a Cisco Connect Cloud Account:
http://www6.nohold.net/Cisco2/ukp.aspx?pid=80&login=1&app=search&vw=1&articleid=25856&donelr=1

You can also call our 1-800-326-7114 number and they will walk you through the process.
 
 

38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Use caution if buying this router, June 29, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Linksys EA4500 App-Enabled N900 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router with Gigabit and USB (Personal Computers)
Let me start by saying I actually like this router, and would probably have rated this router a 4-5 star router. But read on to see why you need to be cautious about buying this router.

On 6/26 Cisco rolled out its Cloud Connect firmware upgrade to this router. This was not a choice, it was basically a mandatory upgrade. Once this upgrade was done you need to sign up for a Cloud Connect ID just to access your router. Note the following:

1- you no longer have direct access to your router for advanced functions. You will now need to go through Cisco's servers to make changes to your router.
2 - The firmware upgrade is buggy. It has a cool new interface, but has inaccurately reported my router as being offline many times. If you do not have an internet connection your menu items are severely limited as you are not accessing your router through Ciscos servers.
3- PLEASE NOTE THE TERMS OF SERVICE FOR THIS HOME ROUTER: (this is taken right from ciscos site)
When you use the Service, we may keep track of certain information related to your use of the Service, including but not limited to the status and health of your network and networked products; which apps relating to the Service you are using; which features you are using within the Service infrastructure; network traffic (e.g., megabytes per hour); Internet history;

I have successfully downgraded my firmware so I am no longer in the cloud, but was told by Cisco that now my 3 month old router is no longer supported by them.

Dont buy this router if you dont want the privacy invasion by Cisco, or limited access to your router, or the unwanted need to go through someone elses server to access your own private router.
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Forced use of cloud based console to admin, June 30, 2012
This review is from: Linksys EA4500 App-Enabled N900 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router with Gigabit and USB (Personal Computers)
CISCO lost a purchase for their forced use of a cloud based admin console.
Wrong decision CISCO, instead of giving options to your customers you have decided for us. Some people should be fired.
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