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Linksys WAG160N review

Verdict:

Review Date: 27 Jun 2008

Price when reviewed: £69

Buy it now for: £60
(see more store prices)

Supplier: http://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop

Reviewed By: Jim Martin

Our Rating 5 stars out of 5

User Rating 4 stars out of 5

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Linksys's previous router designs haven't been subtle, and we can't imagine many people being happy to put one on display in their lounge.

The company isn't ignorant of this fact, however. The WAG160N represents a new direction as far as design is concerned.

Gone are the sci-fi antennas, and in their place is a minimal, curved case with glossy and matt sections. The device is much smaller, and the LEDs are far less conspicuous than on older versions.

We were also impressed by the ease of installation. The CD-based wizard guides you through connecting cables, entering your ISP details, checking internet connectivity and choosing a name for your wireless network. The setup process includes a step for configuring wireless security and recommends WPA2 for the best protection. We hope other manufacturers follow suit.

Once this is done, Linksys EasyLink Advisor (LELA) is installed. This displays a visual map of your network, showing all the connected devices. If any are compatible with LELA - currently this applies only to certain Linksys models - you can choose from a list of options including Advanced Options, Change Password and Wireless Protection. LELA can also monitor your network and alert you to any new devices, potential problems and security breaches.

It's a great idea, but we found a few bugs. One reported that we hadn't given our network a name or set up wireless security. When we clicked through to the router's web management interface, we found it had been correctly configured as per the installation wizard. The design of the interface remains the same as previous models, which is a shame. However, it's still easy to find what you're looking for, and all the options we'd expect to see are here, including Quality of Service (QoS).

We were a little concerned about performance because of the internal antennas, which can't be changed for high-gain models. However, we were pleasantly surprised by the test results. At 1m, we saw 38.7Mbit/s when using Linksys's own WUSB300N USB adaptor, 50.4Mbit/s at 15m and a speedy 24Mbit/s at 25m. Speeds with our Centrino notebook were as expected, but we were happy to find that newer Centrino laptops with Draft-N WiFi, such as Acer's Aspire 8920G, worked flawlessly with the WAG160N. Speeds were roughly the same as with the WUSB300N.

We were disappointed that the four network ports on the rear only support 10/100Mbit/s, and the price is a bit on the expensive side. Furthermore, to get the best performance you'll need to spend £40 on each USB adaptor. If you find the WAG160N cheaper, it's a good choice, but we can't quite recommend it at this price.

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