Cisco’s (News - Alert) Linksys EA4500 dual-band wireless router is an update to the Linksys EA4200 v2. While its performance is on par with its predecessor’s, the EA4500 has some drawbacks that don’t justify the significantly higher price point.
The new router debuts Cisco Cloud Connect, which is somewhat more intuitive than the usual Web-based interface. In addition to a graphical interface, Cloud Connect gives users remote access features so that they can adjust router settings from any location or with any device. To access the admin interface, users log in at CiscoCloudConnect.com and create a free account.
Cloud Connect does have its limitations. For instance, users can only change basic WAN and LAN settings remotely. Because of customer complaints about Cloud Connect, Cisco has released a firmware update to a traditional interface that allows more advanced users to bypass Cloud Connect.
The router uses CD-based setup, but the setup automatically assumes a wireless connection. If users prefer an Ethernet connection, they can still go through the setup process. However, the instructions offer no information pertaining to wired connections.
Some reviewers found that, while long-range performance was excellent, short-range performance was more limited. At one meter, the router delivered a mediocre speed of 44 Mbps, while at 25 meters, the router maintained a more impressive 26 Mbps without a problem.
Also, Cisco has released a software development kit to allow third-party app developers to design apps that integrate with what the company is calling its “Smart Wi-Fi App-Enabled Routers.” While apps to control these devices aren’t unusual, most apps are proprietary rather than open to third-party developers.
To resolve issues with wireless networks and routers, customers who purchase Cisco devices can sign up for SMARTnet technical support. Another support solution is XS International, a more comprehensive service that provides a single contract for all OEM equipment rather than requiring multiple contracts for different types of equipment.
Overall, the Linksys EA4500 performs well with a few minor setup glitches and some issues with short-range performance. However, the new router does not include a feature set that justifies the higher price.
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Edited by Rachel Ramsey