New smart Wi-Fi Router review – Linksys EA2700

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Since the last time I looked at home Routers, home networking has gotten more complex. These days, folks are hooking up almost everything to their home network, either wired or wirelessly: game consoles, audio systems, tablets, handheld gaming devices… the list goes on. And older routers have occasionally been cranky when mixing brands and types — causing more network headaches.

That being said, home networking just got much easier with the recent introduction of the new smart Wi-Fi router lineup from Linksys.

Over the next few posts, I’ll be looking at three members of this linup — starting with the powerful Linksys EA2700.


Update: If you’ve got this router, you may want to read this post re: Cisco’s forced Cloud service update and how to revert back to a previous version of router firmware: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/07/freeing-your-router-from-ciscos-anti-porn-pro-copyright-cloud-service/

Further Update: Cisco changes it’s mind: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/07/cisco-backpedals-after-uproar-drops-cloud-from-default-router-setting/


Overview
I’m going to start by looking at a feature that shows a lot of promise in this product series. The Linksys EA2700 is the lowest priced of the Linksys EA lineup that is ‘App Enabled’ — a feature and function set that allows 3rd parties to develop hardware and software that work seamlessly with these routers.

According to Cisco/Linksys press material, soon you’ll be seeing computing devices and smart appliances (fridges, etc) that take advantage of the App Enabled architecture. This will allow consumers to control their devices from anywhere in the home, or, by using Ciscos’s Connect Cloud service, literally anywhere in the world. I can’t wait to try this stuff out!

You can expect to see Connect Cloud launching later this year, and with it, a host of App Enabled products.

On to the router itself. Who’s it for?

So with three routers in this lineup, who would benefit from the EA2700 most. Well this unit is really designed to provide advanced performance for streaming video on tablets, gaming and file sharing. According to the marketing material, it’s ideal for:

  • Networking larger households and home offices
  • Surfing the web, emailing and printing wirelessly
  • Connecting multiple users and devices at high speed
  • Transferring and downloading larger files
  • Adding storage, printers, or other devices

And I agree! In my home test environment, with multiple wireless devices and a rather extensive wired (Gigabit) layout, the EA2700 worked like a champ — concurrently streaming video from my local storage, streaming music to my mobile device, copying files to different locations, and downloading Linux distros without a hiccup.

Adding it to your networking mix

Setup was a breeze, using the provided installation disk. This helpful company video profiles the setup process.

Getting your hands dirty
Or, if you, like me, have a more complex network setup with maybe two routers, and if you’re not afraid of digging into the arcane innards of networking, you can easily customize and configure the EA2700 from the browser. Though most common settings and features can be managed through the computer application (or the free downloadable mobile device app).

Features
And as long as we’re dealing with ‘advanced’ subjects, here’s a brief list of some of the key features of the Linksys EA2700:

  • High speed (up to 300 + 300 Mbps)
  • Extended range with MIMO antenna array
  • Gigabit Ethernet Ports for 10x faster wired speeds than Ethernet
  • Simultaneous dual-band to maximize throughput and help avoid network interference
  • Cisco Connect Cloud (Available summer 2012)- Get anywhere, anytime access to your home network from a browser or mobile device. Plus, optimize your online experiences with included apps.

Thumbs up!
There you have it. I really like the Linksys EA2700 router. I love the simple ‘Guest Internet Access’ setup and management feature, among others. It’s a great entry-level first router that has quite a few advanced features. It’s also a great add-on or extension for an existing home network.

Up next, I take a look at the Linksys EA3500… watch for it!

Oh, and if you have any thoughts or aspects about these routers you’d like me to touch on, let me know in the comments!

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