A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about the importance of WAN to LAN speeds in routers. Since then I’ve replaced my DrayTek Vigor 2910G with a Linksys E4200. Time to share my impressions so far.
When I saw the first PR shots that Cisco released, I thought the E4200 was going to be absolutely stunning. In reality, it’s still just a plastic box. It’s a little smaller than I imagined from the press shots, and although prettier than most of the competition, not quite as special as I thought it would be. Once hooked up, with all the wires sticking out of the back, it’s still something you’ll probably want to hide from view.
Unlike the DrayTek, this router is fully capable of delivering 120 mbps to my download PC. I don’t have a lab to run elaborate tests, but according to smallnetbuilder, the E4200 is one of the fastest routers out there. Don’t be fooled, not all routers currently on the market do 120 mbps, even Linksys’s cheaper E2000 barely manages that, and leaves little room for future ISP speed upgrades. Considering how much I use the internet, spending an extra €50 or so seemed like a solid investment. With routers, you usually get what you pay for.
Unfortunately, I ran into a problem setting up the wireless. One that wasn’t the linksys’s fault though. It’s state-of-the-art dual band 802.11n configuration simply proved too advanced for my wife’s aging Compaq laptop. To get good range and speeds, I found I had to set things to plain old single band wireless-g. Not ideal, but the range is really excellent, considering.
I don’t use WPS. Instead, I prefer to log into the router’s web interface and interact with all the settings directly. And this is where the E4200 really disappointed. It’s not that the options aren’t there, it’s hot they’re presented. Basically, the user interface has not changed since the orignal WRT54G back in 2002. Compared to the DrayTek, the interface feels slow, awkward and really old-fashioned. It works, and if you’ve used Linksys routers before you’ll feel right at home, but come on Cisco!
One of the new menu options is “Storage”. I connected a USB drive to the port on the back and set it up for us with Windows sharing and FTP. It’s no full-blown NAS, but the E4200 can be used to easily set up some basic network storage.
Overall, I’m happy with the E4200. It delivers in terms of speed and wireless range. The DrayTek was over twice as expensive when I got it, yet the Linksys is over 30 times faster. The tired old web interface lets the E4200 down a little, but once properly set up, chances are you won’t need to go there very often. Recommended.