A home router with a few impressive tricks.
Cisco have long been pioneers in the networking industry, and their acquisition of home-networking company Linksys in 2003 was a way for the tech giant to reach into consumer’s homes. Since then, the company has been releasing a number of routers designed for home use, which aim to be easy to setup while still delivering reliable performance. Their latest effort comes in the form of the Linksys EA6500, which we had a chance to preview at this year’s GITEX.
Build Quality & Design
I like that Cisco has gone for sleeker looks with their recent lineup of routers. Gone are the million flashing lights and awkward antennas; in the case of the EA6500 we have a flat and slightly curved router, with the Cisco logo lighting up brightly on the front.
At the back you have a WAN port, 4 LAN ports, 2 USB ports, a WPS button, and the reset switch. This particular model is also wall-mountable, so you neatly tuck it away where you choose to.
Performance & Features
The EA6500 comes with Cisco Cloud Connect, which is the company’s new and improved way to setup and configure your router. It does however, require you to have an Internet connection and a free account with Cisco (there is an option to bypass this and go straight to the router’s interface). Once you’re connected, the EA6500 gives you a plethora of options at your disposal. You can configure either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz Wi-fi networks, activate Guest access, and prioritize network activity to some applications or devices. The interface is very simple and even advanced options are explained in a clear manner.
You also have the option of downloading various apps that interface with the EA6500 – some of the apps I previously tested let you block certain sites on the fly from your smartphone, or integrate with IP cameras on your network to setup a home surveillance kit, and much more. The included USB ports are great for sharing devices across your network, such as a printer or storage media. In the case of storage media, you can then dictate if you’d like everyone on your network to access the drive or just restrict it to a particular group of users.
Performance-wise, the EA6500 was quite good, taking about 45 seconds to transfer a 680MB file from my laptop to a network drive via wireless. The range on the router was also quite good, with the 5GHz range letting me wander around the garden listening to streaming music uninterrupted. The router also supports the new 802.11ac wireless standard, offering transfer speeds of up to 1.3Gbps with compatible clients.
The Linksys EA6500 is a sleek device that boasts an impressive array of features. It’s certainly a marked improvement from earlier Linksys routers, and the inclusion of 802.11ac is certainly an advantage for devices that support the standard. If you’re looking for a home router that’s able to handle multiple clients and a decent amount of network traffic, then this one is worth picking up.