Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Linksys E4200 v2 Router Review

Linksys E4200 v2 Router Review

The Linksys E4200 is a powerful router that is designed for the digitally savvy household. This simultaneous dual-band router is capable of streaming HD video to your TV, besides wireless for your tablet or laptop. It is even an alternative to setting up a file-sharing home network. Let's see how well it works!

The first thing you will notice about the E4200 is its sleek looks. Cisco has designed a router that actually looks as if were meant for a home, not a data center. Unlike our ugly modem that has large, flashing green lights on the front, this router has only a glowing Cisco logo on the front.

On the back, there are four Ethernet ports, an Ethernet Internet port, and a USB port. But.....what is a USB port doing on the back of this router? Here is one way to use it: I plugged a thumb drive into the USB port, told the Cisco Connect software that I have a mass storage device plugged in, and Voila! -now I can share files between our two computers. It functions like a home network, except is much, much easier to set up and manage. (You could also hook up an external hard drive for more storage.) This USB port can also be used to share printers between computers. I only wish there were two USB ports- one for a printer and one for a storage device.

Wireless Performance

The E4200 v2 has excellent wireless range. We have a fairly large house, so our previous router would put out a weak signal in the upstairs rooms. This router keeps us wirelessly connected in any room-and even on the porch. I checked!

The E4200 seems to be quite speedy. In my unscientific testing, I noticed that streaming music seemed to be noticeably smoother and faster.

Here are the E4200's specifications:

Bands: Simultaneous 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
Transmit / receive: 3 x 3 on 2.4 and 5 GHz (Up to 450 + 450 Mbps)
Antennas: 6 Internal
Ethernet ports x speed: 4 x Gigabit
USB storage port:  Yes, Shared Storage, Virtual USB and Media Server

Cisco Home Connect Software
The Cisco Home Connect Software lets the user set up and manage their E series router. What exactly does that entail?

First, it guides you through the installation of your router. This is accomplished in three steps. Each step is well-illustrated and simple. For most, setup will take about five minutes .

Second, the software gives you management of an optional guest network. This lets others use the Internet without having access to your information.

Third, Cisco Home Connect Software lets you connect printers and USB storage to make a home network of sorts. It also lets you connect other computers, game consoles, tablets, etc. to the Internet.

And lastly, the software gives users the option to enforce parental controls. With this feature, users can block websites and limit how long their kids can be on the Internet.

All around, the software is very straightforward. For the average user, the Home Connect encompasses everything they will likely need to manage.

(NOTE: There is also an in-depth technical management web version of this software for “power users.” It allows you to activate port forwarding, adjust firewalls and filters, and mess with geeky settings. However, that version is beyond the scope of this review.)

The Linksys E4200 v2 by Cisco is a powerful, easy-to-use router that provides excellent wireless coverage and some neat extra features.

Product Info

MSRP:$ 200 from Cisco
    Powerful, easy-to-use, good wireless coverage, neat USB storage feature
  • none!

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