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Giant leap from a D-Link DIR-655
on April 11, 2012
[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.
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.