First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Linksys E1000 wireless router
Linksys E1000 review: An inexpensive and fast wireless router with Cisco Connect software
- Good performance, stylish, URL and keyword filtering for protective parents
- Cisco Connect software locks you out of the Web interface
The Linksys E1000 performed well in our tests and it's suitable for users who have never set up a router before -- its Cisco Connect software does all the hard work for you. However, using Cisco Connect means you can't access the router's Web interface and more advanced features.
Price$ 90.00 (AUD)
Linksys' E1000 is the company's entry-level wireless router, taking over from the WRT160N. It's a 2.4GHz, 802.11n wireless router that can supply wireless throughput up to 300 megabits per second, and it also has all the regular features you would expect of a home router, such as a 4-port Ethernet switch and a built-in firewall.
During our tests, the router was reliable and it also returned some nice figures in our transfer tests. Copying data across the wireless network from 2m away from the router averaged 10.28 megabytes per second (MBps), while from 10m away it averaged 8.19MBps. These results compare favourably to other inexpensive routers we've seen recently, such as the Netgear WNR2000 and they are also on par with the more advanced Linksys E2000. In our range tests, the E1000 provided a usable signal for Web browsing up to around 34m, but this (and the speed at closer distances) will depend on the obstacles present in your own environment.
The E1000 looks like previous Linksys routers such as the afore-mentioned WRT160N; it has a sleek design that's devoid of external antennas and it has bright status lights on the front along with a button that helps to automatically set up the router using Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS).
There are two ways to set up the E1000: If you know what you're doing, you can simply configure it through its Web interface, or, if you're unsure of what to do, you can use the supplied Cisco Connect software. We'll go through the process for the latter, because it has a pitfall.
Using Cisco Connect
The Cisco Connect software is supplied on a CD-ROM instead of a USB stick, which will be inconvenient for those of you with laptops that lack an optical drive. Once you launch Cisco Connect, it displays instructions on how to connect the router to your modem.
To configure the router, you don't need to actually physically connect it to the computer on which Cisco Connect is being run — the software can scan all the available network adapters (including the wireless adapters) to find the router and establish a connection. Once a connection is established, you enter your ISP login details and the router attempts to connect to the Internet. In our tests, the router couldn't access the Internet after it was set up and we had to manually reset it. This happened every time we set it up, and it was annoying.
The Cisco Connect software doesn't ask you to enter any wireless settings, as it does it all for you automatically. Instead of setting up a wireless network name (SSID) of 'Linksysxxxx' or 'Ciscoxxxx', the software gives it a more creative name — one of the names it gave ours was NiceHorse, we kid you not. You can connect to this wireless network from your laptop by pressing the button on the router, which initiates WPS to automatically generate a password. This means that you don't know the password of the wireless network. If you want to connect other laptops to the wireless network, you have to go in to the properties of the wireless adapter to see its password and copy it over to your other computers.
If you want to change the SSID and password manually, you have to enter the router's Web configuration page. This should theoretically be accessible through the Cisco Connect software; instead it told us that it could not access our router's settings because the password had been changed. Clicking on the program's 'advanced settings' brings up a screen with username and password details for the router that you can use once you go to its Web page. It then launches the Web interface page for the router and you are prompted to enter the username and password that it gave you.
It's worth noting that the IP address of the E1000 at this point is not 192.168.1.1 (as it would be when you configure the router without using Cisco Connect) but instead 192.168.0.1. When we entered the password that Cisco Connect gave us, it didn't work, so we were essentially locked out of the router. We had to restore its default settings and set it up manually in order to access its Web interface page.
Basically, Cisco Connect locks you out of the router and assumes that you don't want to change any settings, so if you do want to change any settings down the line, then you will have to restore it. It's a pity Cisco Connect doesn't give you the option to access advanced featured from within its interface. However, if you have never set up a router before, the fact that Cisco Connect can do all the basics for you and doesn't let you easily access confusing features probably makes things a whole lot easier to understand.
Once you're in the Web configuration, the E1000's interface might be familiar to you if you've used Linksys routers before — it hasn't changed a bit over the years. You can manipulate wireless settings, add port forwarding rules, and even set up URL and keyword filters.
Overall, it's a good router that's affordable, stylish, and it performed well in our tests. It's easy to set up for the most part, although we did have to manually restart it in order to connect to the Internet. If you want to use the router's advanced features, then don't configure it using the Cisco Connect software.
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