Product Cisco Linksys E3000 review
System Specifications Dual-band, dual-radio 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi router, 4 x Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, 1 x WAN port, 1 x USB2 port, 225 x180 x 35mm, 452g
Price £129.99 including VAT
FIRST IT was Linksys. Then it was Linksys by Cisco. And now, it's Cisco, with the Linksys name relegated to the model description. The seven-year assimilation is finally complete, and to celebrate the company has launched a fresh range of consumer routers in the UK to replace its current WRT range. The E3000 is the flagship model, featuring dual-radio 802.11n WiFi, four Gigabit LAN ports plus a WAN port.
There are actually few major internal or external differences between the E3000 and the WRT610N it replaces, the main changes being in the setup and configuration software. Gone is Cisco Network Magic, to be replaced by the Cisco Connect utility first seen in Cisco's US-only Valet range of low-end models.
Setup can be done over wireless or wired connections, although the latter option isn't mentioned anywhere. The software sets up a new random global password that's used for both admin access and WPA/WP2 security - these can all be changed individually in the advanced web interface, but if you do that you won't be able to use Cisco Connect. So what, you ask? Well, the 2.4GHz guest wireless network and parental controls can only be configured using Cisco Connect. Yes, it is more than a little bonkers.
In the web GUI are plenty of useful advanced settings (but see above), neatly and logically laid out. Its consumer focus is obvious though, with QoS settings simplified to four preset priority levels and basic firewall settings. VPN passthough is also supported, and there's a SIP ALG to simplify VoIP setup. To simplify client setup there's an Easy Setup Key tool to let you dump settings and the Cisco Connect software onto a USB key.
All this is housed in a sleek box with three internal antennas for each of the two radios. The comprehensive status lights are discreet and top-mounted. There's no integrated DSL modem, so it's only of use to cable users or those with Ethernet DSL modems. A single USB port provides Samba, FTP and UPnP media streaming services for attached storage devices, but printers, webcams and 3G dongles aren't supported.
We found 2.4GHz wireless performance to be excellent, achieving 70Mbps at 1m and a commendable 24Mbps at 25m using Passmark's Advanced Network test. At 5GHz it was also impressive, touching 100Mbps near-field and sustaining 30Mbps at 10m before dropping out at around 15m.
It's a good router at a sensible price, but we have reservations about the way Cisco Connect interacts with the hardware; if advanced users don't feel as though they're in full control, they're not going to be happy.
The E3000 is a well-made dual-radio router with excellent wireless performance and plenty of configuration options, but it has a couple of omissions and the Cisco Connect utility could be better. µ
Fast wireless performance with good range, nice styling, easy to setup and configure.
No printer sharing or 3G dongle support, setting up shared folders is unnecessarily fiddly.
Some settings only accessible via Cisco Connect utility.