Review: Linksys EA4500 Dual Band Router with Gigabit and USB

Thanks to Linksys, I have the chance to review Linksys’ latest EA4500 Dual Band Router that was recently announced. It has a dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) with a maximum transfer rate of up to 900Mbs.

As I am using Linksys in my home network, I thought this is a good chance to see the results of both routers (read on to see the results). Before I start, lets look at the key features on paper.

Key features:**

  • Cisco Connect Cloud – Get anywhere, anytime access to your home network from a browser or mobile device and optimise your online experiences with apps*
  • Maximum speed (up to 450 + 450Mbps) for ultra-fast wireless transfer rates
  • Simultaneous dual-band to maximise throughput and help avoid network interference
  • Gigabit Ethernet ports for speeds up to 10x faster than standard Ethernet
  • Top range and reliability with full 3×3 MIMO antenna array
  • USB port and built-in DLNA Certified® media server
**Maximum performance derived from IEEE Standard 802.11 specifications. Actual performance can vary, including lower wireless network capacity, data throughput rate, range and coverage. Performance depends on many factors, conditions and variables, including distance from the access point, volume of network traffic, building materials and construction, operating system used, mix of wireless products used, interference and other adverse conditions.

Here is my review.

Physical Look

The Linksys EA4500 is a beauty. It has the curves and design that when you place it in the house, it will not become an eye-sore. Linksys has cleverly hide all those “ugly” vents and ports under the “canopy”. It is hard to imagine how light and small it is. Here is a picture to show you.

And here is another picture of the port at the back.

In normal operation, you will only need an input (Internet) and the power source as shown in this picture.

Installation of Linksys EA4500

Installing the Linksys EA4500 is not exactly a breeze for me. The instruction is that I must use the install disk. I followed the instruction on the screen (e.g. physically connect the router to the modem and powering it on) and my laptop started to locate the router.

However, it could not be connected. Finally, I decided to temporarily disable my Firewall (ESET) and reinstall again. This time, I have no issue.

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At the end of the installation, you will be provided a txt file where all your passwords and IDs are in it. The program will then check for the latest firmware and request to install the latest firmware.

Once done, the installation is completed.

Connecting to the network

After the installation, you will notice that the router actually give out 2 wireless connections. One is the secured (WPA2) connection and the other is the guest connection (without the security (lock) logo).

Initially, I was worried that the guest connection is without security. When I tried to connect it, it connected without issue. When you want to access the Internet, it will prompt you for the guest password.

To configure this guest connection, you will need to get the Cisco Connect Cloud.

Cisco Connect Cloud

One of the key features of this Linksys EA4500 is the Cisco Connect Cloud. As the name suggest, once it is configured, you can actually access the router anywhere in the world with Internet connection.

You can check the device status, USB port connection, Password and etc. It is like the admin page of any router but, in my opinion, nicer.

To do this, you will need to get an account for the Cisco Cloud Connect.

Initially, I could not get it to work as it is not link to the EA4500 router. After checking, I decided to manually update the firmware (as I found that my firmware is not the latest as compared to the one on their US website).

PS: To upgrade, you will need to access the Cisco Cloud Connect and switch the  automatic update to manual and using your downloaded firmware file, you can upgrade it.

Once done, the rest is easy. Just follow the instruction to link the router. Here are some of the things you can do with Cisco Cloud Connect.

  • Network Health
    • At one glance you know if there is any issue with the network.
  • Device List
    • Check who is connected to the network
  • Guest Access
    • I love this option. Sharing your Internet Access with friends without them meddling with your network stuff.
  • Parental Controls
    • Parents can control which sites to limit.
  • Media Prioritization
    • If you stream video to maybe TV, this will be a good feature.
  • USB Storage
    • Once a USB is connected and detected on EA4500, you can access them via FTP. Very easy.
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Troubleshooting Network Issue with Cisco Cloud Connect

Actually, with Cisco Cloud Connect, you no longer need to be on the same network to see the configuration. In this case, you can actually help someone (your family members) troubleshoot or check their router settings once you are given access.

Connect devices using SimpleTap

With SimpleTap, at this moment, it is limited to helping user to sync or connect device to the network. For example, user need not go to the physical router to press the Sync button when connecting a device. Instead, they can use the Cisco Cloud Connect app on a smartphone to activate it.

Other future SimpleTap methods will leverage emerging technologies such as Near Field Communications (NFC) components and the mobility of the Cisco Connect Cloud mobile app to make it even easier to connect devices in the future.

Some initial apps that you can make use of the Cisco Connect Cloud.

  • Block the Bad Stuff, for enabling Safe Web Surfing on your Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router with a simple turn of a dial on a mobile device
  • hipplay, for accessing, sharing, and playing the digital media stored on your home network, DropBox or Facebook
    Gemini IP Camera Viewer, for one-touch home monitoring camera installation and monitoring on the go
  • Twonky Video, for browsing video content online or on your network and beaming to DLNA or AirPlay compatible devices from your phone or tablet
  • Device Monitoring, for real-time access and notifications of who’s online on the home network and for how long
  • netproofer, for simplified control of access to social networking sites, by device and timeframe, anytime or anywhere

Test

Although I am already using a Linksys Wireless N series of router, I am still interested to find out if this latest EA4500 with dual band can help to improve the overall downloading/uploading experience. It is not a very comprehensive test but I feel that it is even to see some benefits.

I am pitting my WRT300N with EA4500 in this test.

As you can already see, the EA4500 already wins in the “look” department. It has a full 3×3 MIMO antenna array inside this slim body. No bulky antenna outside it.

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For the test, I chose http://speedtest.sg as the test site. I tested more than 10 times in each router but I am going to show just a few for your reference.

As you can see, although EA4500 shows inconsistent results, it has proven to be able to reach a higher downloading speed as compare to WRT300N.

For those who wants more, here is the specs.

Model Linksys: EA4500
Technology: Wireless-N
Bands Simultaneous: 2.4 GHz & 5 GHz (2.4 GHz Band Up to 450 Mbps, 5 GHz Band Up to 450 Mbps)
Transmit/Receive: 3 x 3
Antennas: 6 Internal
USB port: Yes (shared storage, virtual USB and media server)
Ports x speed: 4 x Gigabit
IPv6 Support: Native IPv6 and 6rd support
Cisco Connect Software: Yes, App Enabled
Setup Cisco Connect: CD Install
OS Compatibility: Windows, Mac
Package dimensions: 28.2 x 24.4 x 6.9 cm (w x h x d)
Product dimensions: 22,5 x 2.5 x 16 cm (w x h x d)
Product weight: 0,36 kg
Warranty: 1 year hardware limited warranty

Summary

Overall, I feel that in terms of design, the Linksys EA4500 is a joy to look at. In terms of connectivity, it really depends on the location and distance of the devices. At this moment, it has been a great pleasure using it.

I particularly like Cisco Cloud connect concept, and the ability to expand the usability via apps on Smartphones. The Linksys EA4500 is currently available for purchase at S$299.

However, please wait until tomorrow as I have a nice “surprise” for readers. 🙂

Let me know if you have other queries or concern.

Here are some links to more information on Linksys.

www.linksys.com.

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