Reviews  

Linksys E2000

Elias Plastiras & PCW Team 2011-03-16
82 Very Good
Price: Rs 6,500

Full Review

The Linksys E2000 is a selectable dual-band Wi-Fi router that seems to be a successor of the Linksys WRT 320N. It is a 300 Mbps 802.11n wireless access point as well as a four-port Gigabit Ethernet switch. Selectable band means that the wireless band can be run in either the normal 2.4 GHz mode, or in 5GHz mode to benefit from lower interference. The E2000 cannot operate with simultaneous dual-band radio, so you can only pick one frequency at a time.


Design and Features

The Linksys E2000 router looks the same as the older Linksys WRT 320N and is priced very close too. It doesn't have external antennas, can be wall-mounted, has bright LED status lights and its capabilities can be gleaned by the colour of its wing. Grey means it has Gigabit Ethernet capability, and the image below shows it has 5 Ethernet ports - four for a LAN and the fifth for an uplink.

Linksys E2000 - rear ports

The router offers built-in firewall, QoS, port-forwarding, Dynamic DNS support and VPN pass-through support. The retail package includes a setup CD, Ethernet cable and power adapter in the box, besides the router itself. In particular, the power adapter has an intermediary toggle on the router's side, to switch it on/off.  This hardware switch was nice, after seeing a lot of routers that can only be power-cycled by unplugging the power plug itself.

Like the WRT320N, the E2000 wireless router does not have a USB port. This means you cannot plug a USB hard drive into the router to get NAS storage functionality out of it.

Software setup

The supplied CD-ROM autoruns the Cisco Connect software, which goes through all the steps you need to undertake in order to first connect your new wireless router. The only thing that caught our attention about this setup procedure was how long it took. But the CD-ROM is aimed at people who don't want to have to deal with advanced settings, and in this respect it's definitely useful. The special setup software that Linksys ships with its wireless routers has been simplified, in a bid to make it as easy as possible for novice users to install it.

Cisco Connect: main screen.

We were able to set up the router a lot quicker by logging in to the Web interface and entering all our details manually.

The Web interface of the E2000 hasn't changed much since the WRT320N.

If you don't want to go in and manually change settings, you can use the default name/SSID selected for the wireless network, and its associated password. But you will have to create an Easy Setup Key, by inserting a USB pendrive into the PC when prompted and the program will copy the wireless network's details to it automatically.




Adding wireless clients to your network is easy, although you may have to launch the Connect program manually if it doesn't autorun.

To connect a smartphone, wireless printer or a gaming console, you'll have to type in the wireless network's credentials manually. Cisco Connect will display the SSID, password and security type (WPA, WPA2 or mixed WPA or WPA2) - don't forget that the password is case sensitive, so you'll need to type it in exactly as you see it on the screen.

The Linksys E2000 Advanced Wireless-N Router also allows users to connect to it as guests. The Cisco Connect software shows you the password for this, which is convenient if you have visitors and want to give them Internet access but don't want them accessing the computers on your local area network.

Cisco Connect also allows you to set up parental controls for specific computers. You'll only be able to apply filters to computers that are already connected to the router, and you'll need to apply each filter to each computer (if you want to restrict more than one). This is a little cumbersome if you want to lock down the majority of your network. To block content, you'll have to enter specific URLs as the software does not support keyword filtering. If an attempt is made to access a flagged site, the router will block it. The block can be bypassed if the user knows the password.



Interestingly, the parental filters are not available in the router's Web interface, and are only in the Cisco Connect software. We think it would be more beneficial if it also included keyword filtering.

Performance

In tests, the E2000 operated as expected on wired Gigabit ports. No drops in connection, and speeds reached up to 920 Mbps (115 MB/s). The router's wireless performance was good. Real-world speed was measured by transferring video files from an Ethernet wired server, to a dual-band capable laptop.

First up, the 2.4GHz band. At a distance of 2m away from the router, transfer rates of 9.47 MB/s were achieved. From 10m away, the speed was 8.38 MB/s. Now, on to the 5GHz spectrum. From 2m away, speed was 9.47 MB/s, but from 10m away the transfer rates dropped slightly to 6.74 MB/s.

The router offered good range in our test environment. It was able to supply a usable Internet connection from over 35m away, but its range and signal connectivity strength will vary depending on the environment. We think it will perform well in a mid-sized house for streaming video, in addition to sharing a fast Internet connection across computers.

Bottom Line

In addition to selectable dual-band Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet, the Linksys E2000 has all the features you'd expect of a modern wireless router. It performed well in our tests, and we recommend it not only for sharing a broadband connection, but also for tasks such as media streaming and online gaming.

However, the lack of a USB port and support for simultaneous dual-band networking, at the price it commands makes for many uncomfortable moments. In India, enthusiasts and small businesses will form the audience who can afford it but in the face of competition and choice, they may want all the features they can get in that price segment. The Buffalo G300NH router offers more value for money if you don't need 5 GHz operation.

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