capsule review

Linksys Wireless-N Broadband Router

At a Glance
  • Linksys by Cisco Wireless-N Broadband Router with 4-Port Switch MIMO

    PCWorld Rating

The Linksys Wireless-N is a very good all-rounder in design and features; like the Belkin N1, it seriously stumbles only in performance, although not as badly. It has QoS, WPA/WPA2 Enterprise encryption, Radius server support, and truly comprehensive routing capabilities, making it our features champ among the routers we tested for our October issue roundup.

The installation experience was very good. A CD setup utility led us through the physical connections and then took us to the router's Web-based Smart Wizard for Internet setup. The 90-page PDF manual was nearly as good as Belkin's, but the context-sensitive help within the Web configuration tool was not. It offered no information on the 802.11n features of the router and looked like it was simply copied from another Linksys model. Even a firmware update did not address this shortcoming in the router setup software.

The Linksys has a flat antenna situated in between two pole antennas, a departure from the usual three-pole design. It has no wall-mount bracket, but you can stand the router horizontally or vertically. The case sticks to Linksys's trademark purple and black color scheme, which we wish the company would ditch in favor of more decor-friendly choices like the white, black, and silver of the other routers we saw. On top of the device is a big button that doesn't do anything, but is "reserved" for future use. Maybe one-touch encryption setup? Linksys isn't saying.

What about speed and range? As we did for the tested Belkin and Buffalo draft-n products, we gave the overall performance of the Linksys Wireless-N line a Fair rating due to its poor throughput at long range (60 feet through house walls) and multiple failures to complete file transfers, a symptom of its lesser range. Even at close and midrange distances, the two tested non-draft-n routers did better.

Becky Waring

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Pros

    • Excellent features
    • WPA/WPA2 Enterprise support

    Cons

    • Poor long-range performance
    • Mediocre case design
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