Recently Cisco anounced their new Linksys line of routers and switches for home users. I am a long-time user of Linksys products, and welcomed the opportunity to try out their new gear. I have the new E2500 dual-band N router, which you can pick up on Amazon for $79.99.
My current router is a Linksys WRT400N, the previous flying saucer style dual-band N router with a 4-port 100mbit ethernet switch built-in. I have replaced the existing firmware with one from DD-WRT, for reasons which I will explain in detail below.
If you are at all familiar with Linksys products, then the new E series line of devices will be easy to use. The web-based software interface remains the same. Configuration was simple, and I had the router functioning perfectly in place of my own within minutes.
I prefer a dual-band 2.4/5ghz wifi router in my home because there are plenty of devices here that use both bands. 5GHz tends to be stronger, is less affected by external interference, and usually allows for better data transfer rates across the network.
I have no need for a gigabit switch at home. The only hardware that I have which uses a wired connection are my Ubuntu server and the networked printer. I suppose if I had gigabit connectivity, and 3-antenna 5GHz capability of 450mbps wifi speeds, I might be able to tweak out a higher data throughput but it's not necessary.
Configuring the router to connect to the DynDNS dynamic DNS service was simple. If my Comcast IP address changes, the router updates the DNS service to match. Configuring port forwarding for services like a web server and SSH are still simple to set up and maintain.
One thing I like about the new series is that they use the Broadcom networking chipset in their devices instead of Atheros. I know it doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things; it's a personal preference. The older Linksys devices used Broadcom all the time and I always had great results with them.
There are some things about the new line that I think could benefit from improvement. For one thing, the internet is rapidly running out of IP address space. That can be held off for a short while with creative juggling and selling of unused IP space, but the writing is on the wall. The new Linksys line does not yet support ipv6, so if you want that capability, you're going to have to wait a few months before the firmware is updated to support it.
Another feature that seems to be missing is client bridging. My home is fairly large, and the back bedroom receives a very poor wifi signal. I'd like to be able to bridge a second wifi router in the hallway so I can boost the signal. I can't do that with the feature set the way it is right now.
Finally, as Jason recommended in his article on the new Linksys E line, I would like to recommend that they hire the DD-WRT developers to start coding official firmware for the devices. And they should start sending them samples of the entire line so they don't have to beg for donations in order to purchase the hardware themselves.
Why do I use DD-WRT? Aside from having the features I just described, they also have the ability to finely tune the wifi signal and power. The default transmit power of the Linksys devices isn't strong enough to reach through some walls in a house. On my WRT400N, I can get a signal to that back bedroom. A weak one, but better than none at all.
The new Linksys line shows a great deal of promise, and the prices are very reasonable. They seem to have solved the heat and ventilation issues with the previous line of devices. I'm looking forward to using the new hardware in the future.