Cisco Linksys E4200 - Built for the Fast Lane

Launch SRP: S$279

Design & Features

Design And Build

External antennas are passe, if recent offerings from Linksys are anything to go by. Dressed in matte black shell with a grey "metallic" band slapped across the middle, the E4200 is by far the sleekest and classiest router we've laid hands on. It's a little less ostentatious than the glossy ASUS RT-56U, with a little more class to boot. One obvious upside is you get to display this router like a decorative accessory instead of stowing it away from view. Unlike conventional designs, this minimalist networking unit is also devoid of status indicators, save for a white LED-backlit Cisco logo which serves as a power indicator.  

With its clean lines and avant garde outfit, the E4200 is clearly the best looker from Linksys so far. The company's R&D team have worked towards a design which fits the aesthetics of a modern living space, and that includes the living room as well.

You won't find too many LED indicators on the E4200 like most routers do. In fact, there is only one status indicator which moonlights as Cisco's logo. The white LED blinks when the router is initializing, and stays a solid white when the router is fully booted up.

The back panel features four standard Gigabit LAN ports, plus a single Gigabit WAN port for the modem. Crossover cables aren't required since auto-crossover features (Auto-MDIX) are supported as well. Additionally, a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button and a sunken Reset button are also catered for. Further to the right sits a USB slot which serves various purposes. For starters, you may use it to share data from external storage devices via the router's NAS-like feature. Alternatively, transmission of multimedia content across the home network is also possible with the integrated UPnP Media Server. The E4200 is packaged with a Cat 5 cable, a 12V power adapter, and a CD containing the Cisco Connect software if you prefer to setup the router in a snap.

While Linksys' design may seem a little unconventional, the router's back panel is anything but. Four Gigabit LAN ports were found on the far left, followed by a Gigabit WAN slot for your modem. Apart from its USB and WPS options, the E4200 also features a power rocker on the extreme right.

The E4200 is bundled with a 12V power adapter, an Ethernet cable, and a CD containing the Cisco Connect software. The Ethernet cable is only about a meter long. Keep that in mind if you have no plans to mount the router anywhere near your modem.

 

Cisco Connect And Web Interface Features

 

Cisco Connect

Surprisingly, the installation process wasn't as quick as anticipated. In fact, the setup took more than eight minutes before the router was finally initialized. On the up side, Cisco Connect enables you to configure the E4200 for basic usage without any prior networking knowledge. For example, it allows you to add computers to your network, set guest access, or enable parental controls with much ease. On the other hand, its limited functionality may frustrate enthusiasts since it does not provide access to the meatier advanced settings. The web browser can still be used for this purpose, fortunately. One minor gripe is the initial prompt to install Cisco Connect on the browser's splash page. We observed this only happens with the new native firmware (build 13). Also, a single SSID is given instead of discrete SSIDs for each frequency band.

 Apart from the E4200's stellar hardware, Linksys has been pushing its user-friendly Cisco Connect software as well. The setup took longer than expected though, lasting almost nine minutes before the router was reinitialized and ready for use.

As mentioned earlier, the E4200 is a simultaneous dual-band router with two discrete radios. It is odd that Linksys only assigns a single SSID via the the Cisco Connect application. And hey, don't ask us about the "ShinyDove" choice. It was given by default!

Cisco Connect provides access to basic router configurations as well as parental controls. Adding PCs or notebooks to the network is a breeze too. However, expect more wacky names such as the "onion11" password for the guest access SSID.


Features

The router comes with a default IP address of 192.168.1.1, with "admin" as its ID and password assuming Cisco Connect wasn't used previously. For its web interface, Linksys has retained its sterile white and blue layout, although the detailed field settings and practical Help tips are a definite plus. We applaud features like its customizable QoS prioritization, guest access (up to ten clients), IPv6 support (with manual options for 6rd tunneling), VPN pass-through, plus an UPnP media server for streaming. Linksys' detailed Internet Access Policy (IAP) filtering system is worth a mention too, especially if you have kids at home. Essentially, you can restrict access from networked computers on a weekly schedule or block applications via various network protocols. The Disk Management application enables you to share specific folders or the entire drive. However, you can't assign specific read or write rights.      

The E4200 features NAS-like features with its Disk Management application, where you get to share out data from USB drives across the network. While it allows you to share specific folders or the entire drive's contents, it is not possible to assign read or write rights.

Choose between manual or WPS under the router's wireless setup. Other available options include mixed or specific network modes, plus 20MHz or 40MHz channel widths for the 5GHz band. As for wireless encryption, the E4200 supports the usual standards like WPA-Personal, WPA-Enterprise and WEP.

Linksys has siphoned its access restriction policies into two groups: Parental Controls and Internet Access Policy. Oddly, you can only enable one at any one time. You can also block applications based on their port range and network protocol.

8.5
Overall rating 8.5/10
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Design
9
Features
8.5
Performance
8.5
Value
8
The Good
Stable throughput and connectivity
Practical features
Stylish design
The Bad
Sluggish Cisco Connect setup
Lacks print server services
Expensive