Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review: Linksys E4200 dual-band 450Mbps router

Earlier this week Cisco unveiled the stylish new Linksys E4200 dual-band 450Mbps router. This sweet looking little router just happened to land on my desk and was begging for a thorough Geek News review.

First Impression - Wow what a sleek design!

This has to be one of the best looking devices on my desk at the moment. The entire router just screams luxury device with a sleek black matte housing featuring a center strip of silver metal on the top with Cisco's logo embossed on it. Gone are all the annoying flashing lights you see on most routers instead the logo glows a soft bluish-white when the router is connected and gently flashes during setup.

The E4200 features 6 (yes six) antennas for added range. However you'll never notice a single one since they are all tucked neatly inside. I've personally never used a router without external antennas but this one might have me sold!

Features - Down to the heart of the beast

Cisco touts the E4200 as a router designed for the tech enthusiast that wants the best in multi-use, multimedia home networking. Essentially they are billing the E4200 as the best of the best for the hardcore geeks out there have Web-connected TVs, game consoles, iPads, and other bandwidth-gobbling gadgets.

The router features simultaneous dual-band (2.4 and 5.0 GHz) Wi-Fi with four 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet ports. There is also a USB port on the back for attaching FAT32, NTFS, and HSF+ storage devices which provides basic NAS functionality, including performing as a Media or FTP server. This added feature is great foe networking devices such as external hard drives or flash drives and setup is a breeze. (We covered the use in our review of the E2100L)

The Linksys E4200 also provides cross-platform capability supporting Windows XP (SP3), Vista (SP1 and above), Windows 7, and Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.11, Leopard 10.5.8 and Snow Leopard 10.6.1. Unfortunately, there's no official Linux support but that may be coming!

Setup - Can Cisco make this any easier?

The E4200 ships with the standard easy to use Cisco Connect software that makes setup and management off all their browsers a snap. If you've ever used a Cisco/Linksys router you know how easy their software is to follow and how quick and easy setup is.

I personally never use the software and instead opt for manual mode which hasn't changed much. The interface will look pretty familiar to anyone that has dealt with Cisco/Linksys routers in the past.

For those that choose to use the new Cisco Connect software you'll find a couple of new features, one of which is an Internet speed test that will measure the speed of the Internet connection. The second is the ability to shut off the rear LED lights to the ports on the back.

This was one new feature that I absolutely loved! The feature can be found from the router's home page using the address Cisco doesn't allow users to dim the glowing Cisco logo that's on top of the router which would have been nice but the soft white glow isn't as annoying as the constant flashing of other front facing leds!

Speed and Performance - Do I get more bang for my buck?

At $180 the E4200 is a high-powered high priced router, unfortunately at this time unless you have a laptop equipped with an Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 or 5300 Wi-Fi adapter you can't take full advantage of that speed and power. Cisco promises that in the future there will be USB adapters and add-in cards that support the speeds but for now you are going to be limited to 300 Mbps (more than fast enough for most things).

During my initial, all be it limited, testing speeds and range seemed to be similar to what we saw when testing the Linksys E2100L. I got excellent coverage through out the entire house which extended well outside. I haven't done any throughput tests however those given by CNet in their review show the the E4200 excelled. CNet claims "the E4200 is the fastest true dual-band router they've seen when it comes to wireless performance" and that is good enough for me!

Conclusion - To buy or not to buy, that is the question!

The Linksys E4200 is definitely a high-powered stylish router and it is more then capable of handling anything the geekiest of geeks can throw at it. For those living in the modern well connected home that has several high-intensive network devices like the latest home theater equipment streaming loads of video, gaming consoles or other equipment that saps bandwidth router will surely be impressive and would make a fine addition to your network. For the average every day geek that is looking to buy a replacement router and want some future-proofing you might also take a peek at the E4200.

For the average home user that doesn't fall into the two categories above, well this router really isn't your best option. You might opt for the Linksys E2100L, Linksys E2000 or one of the Cisco Valet series routers

Currently the Linksys E4200 is only available online at the Linksys store at or at (here) you may also find it at select Best Buy brick and mortar locations for an MSRP of $179.99.  The E4200 will roll out to other retail and online retailers over the next few months.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:00 AM

    I bought the E4200 in Canada and brought it to Brazil but for my surprise it came dead. The cisco's logo lights but the router system doesn't start. I also tried to reset it according the linksys support instruction but it didn't work.
    I'm feeling tricked because before I buy I called linksys and they told me it has international warranty but don't.. I spoke with Linksys USA and they can't replace it since I'm in Brazil and Linksys Brazil can't replace it because they don't support the e4200 model yet. So I just lost my investment. Thanks LINKSYS CISCO for this amazing experience


All comments will be moderate for content, please be patient as your comment will appear as soon as it has been reviewed.

Thank you