As most users are heading towards faster internet bandwidth, it looks like Wi-Fi routers are a requirement in almost every household that have more than one wireless device. Desktop PCs along with a notebook and a mobile phone or two are a common sight in most houses today. Cisco has been in the networking business for quite a while now and their Linksys routers are pretty famous, as well. The latest router we have for review here is the E4200.
Design and Build Quality
The router has a nice and sleek design and is quite light to carry around. This particular home router comes built with four Gigabit Ethernet ports. Next to these ports, there’s a power button and another for setting up the automated Wi-Fi protection setup. Also, there’s a USB port so you can plug your flash drive to read data from these devices. There’s the Cisco logo at the front of the router, which glows when it’s plugged in and gives it a cool look.
Well stocked in features
First of all, the E4200 is a dual band router and has support for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies, simultaneously. The latter frequency can be used for getting a better throughput and faster streaming of media or for that matter even downloading stuff. While that’s good about this frequency band, most devices actually support 2.4 GHz. Apart from this, the router also has QoS which means that there’s prioritization for high-bandwidth tasks like streaming media and downloading content from the internet. In the options menu, you can explicitly select applications that are to be given a higher priority than others.
Not only that, the E4200 has quite a few filtering options. There are options to filter web access and you can block specific sites as well. Plus you can restrict internet access from devices and schedule when you want internet to be blocked completely. There’s an option for SPI Firewall protection. You can filter anonymous internet requests via the Internet Filter option and you can also block specific web formats like ActiveX or Java content.
Light in weight and a slim design
Security settings are pretty much the standard stuff like setting WPA and WEP passphrases or even filtering particular MAC addresses that can access the internet. The router supports UPnP media server, so you can share content on the PS3, XBOX 360 or other UPnP-based devices. There’s support for third party firmware like DD-WRT so you can download it to tweak performances on the router.
Cisco has bundled an easy-to-use interface for those having a tough time installing a router. It’s pretty simple, precise and will let you setup the router in a matter of 5 minutes. The interface also has access to all settings that otherwise have to be accessed via the config page of the router.
We ran the E4200 through a set of benchmarks where we downloaded data in three different “zones”. The first zone was where the router and notebook were used in the same room. The other two zones were outside with a solid wall in between them. We transferred assorted and sequential file sets of 200MB and saw that when the laptop was in the same room as the router, it gave a speed of 3.51 MB/s for single and 3.58 MB/s for assorted files. Most other routers usually can give higher speeds (sometimes up to 6 MB/s) so in comparison, the E4200 wasn’t as impressive. We took the notebook to another room and saw the performance drop to 2.4 MB/s and 2.35 MB/s. As we went further it gradually decreased to 1.29 MB/s.
Streaming media wasn’t that bad in comparison. In all three cases, the video ran smoothly without any stutter or lag. We also played a video through an external hard drive plugged into the router and while it did perform well enough when the notebook was in the same room, we had a slight problem when taking it out. It took a little while to read content from the hard drive, but then it worked well.
Standard ports like most Wi-Fi routers
The E4200 is priced at Rs. 9,000. Pretty high for a standard router meant for home use. For users who are looking for simple routers for everyday use, this will fall out of their budget and isn't something that's starkly different from mainstream routers. Dual band routers are generally a little expensive and with the ability to support custom firmware, this might be a versatile router to consider.