Take Advantage of New Simplified Cisco Wireless Routers

Cisco today unveiled two new wireless router lines aimed at simplifying the process of configuring a wireless network for home, or small and medium office environments. The new wireless routers attempt to provide PC users with a wireless experience mirroring Apple's Airport devices.

New Linksys E-series routers can simplify wireless networking for small and medium businesses.
Cisco is an enterprise-grade company, with enterprise-grade equipment, and its used to working with enterprise partners. Its consumer offerings have left a little to be desired. After acquiring Pure Digital Technologies, makers of the popular Flip digital video cameras, Cisco has learned some new tricks for designing simplified, dummy-proof, almost automatic configuration--and it has applied those lessons to its consumer wireless routers.

The Valet series of devices are aimed primarily at home users, but Cisco also developed the Linksys E-series wireless routers--combining the simplicity of the Valet series with some additional configuration options for more tech savvy customers. The Linksys E-series wireless routers are available as of today from standard retail outlets like Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, and others.

The Cisco press release says "The new, streamlined product lineup sets a new precedent for simplicity, power, and performance and makes it easy for consumers to find the right technology to fit their needs."

Here is a breakdown of the features and suggested price for each of the four Linksys E-series wireless routers from the Cisco press release:

Linksys E1000 Wireless-N Router (MSRP: $79.99)

• Wirelessly connects computers and other devices at transfer speeds up to 300 Mbps

• Uses four Fast Ethernet (10/100 Mbps) ports to directly connect wired devices

• Ideal for general wireless Internet usage and home office productivity

Linksys E2000 Advanced Wireless-N Router (MSRP: $119.99)

• Includes four Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000 Mbps) ports for faster file sharing with other Gigabit-enabled devices, including computers, hard drives, and servers

• Features selectable dual-band (2.4 GHz or 5 GHz) technology to help avoid interference, allowing for smoother file transfers and media streaming

• Ideal for connecting computers, gaming consoles, Internet-enabled HDTVs and Blu-Ray players, and other wireless devices at transfer speeds up to 300 Mbps

Linksys E2100L Advanced Wireless-N Router with Linux OS: (MSRP: $119.99)

• Utilizes the Linux operating system for flexibility to customize the network

• Uses four Fast Ethernet (10/100 Mbps) ports to directly connect wired devices

• Built-in UPnP AV Media Server streams entertainment content to an Xbox 360, PS3 or other compatible device

• USB port provides connectivity to storage devices for file sharing at home or over the Internet

Linksys E3000 High-Performance Wireless-N Router (Dual-Band): (MSRP: $179.99)

• Features simultaneous dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz), high-performance Wireless-N technology for smoother HD video streaming, wireless gaming and file transfers

• Includes four Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000 Mbps) ports for faster file sharing with other USB port and provides connectivity to storage devices for file sharing at home or over the Internet

• Built-in UPnP AV media server enables streaming of entertainment content to an Xbox 360, PS3 or other compatible device

• Optimized for entertainment, ideal for connecting computers, gaming consoles, Internet-enabled HDTVs and Blu-Ray players, and other wireless devices at transfer speeds up to 300 Mbps

Obviously, business environments don't have any need to connect Xbox 360, or Sony PS3 gaming consoles, but the Linksys E-series wireless routers still represent a flexible, cost-effective option for small and medium businesses looking to implement a wireless network.

The Cisco Connect software makes it easy to configure and customize the Linksys E-series routers. The quick and easy setup automatically assigns a WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) security passkey, and SSID for the wireless network. Linksys E-series customers can then manage devices connected to the network, set access controls for the devices, establish a visitor password to enable secure access for guests, or customize advanced settings like the SSID and router password using the Cisco Connect software.

More advanced users can also still access Linksys' advanced features through the default IP address (192.168.1.1)--although I recommend changing the default IP address so that every would-be attacker in the world won't know where to start hacking your router by default.

Small and medium businesses can benefit from the 300mbps wireless data speeds, and the wired Gigabit Ethernet connections for zippy downloads. The ability to make USB storage devices network accessible by connecting them to USB ports on the Linksys E2100L enables organizations to also create a sort of rudimentary NAS (network attached storage) for sharing files.

Tony Bradley is co-author of Unified Communications for Dummies . He tweets as @Tony_BradleyPCW . You can follow him on his Facebook page , or contact him by email at tony_bradley@pcworld.com .

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