With Valet, Cisco adds Flip simplicity to home networking

Cisco's new Valet family of consumer routers pairs Linksys tech with Flip simplicity for dummy-proof home networking.

Finally, home networking for dummies.

Cisco on Wednesday announced Valet, a line of consumer home networking routers that pairs the company's robust Linksys technology with the simplicity gained by its acquisition of camcorder maker Flip.

An increasing number of homes are moving to home wireless networking, but progress has been slow, with just one-third of U.S. homes wireless-ready, according to IDC research.

As any "family IT guy" knows, most folks don't know or care how to set up a home network.

The Valet intends to be the first Mom-friendly router. Its packaging has Apple-like simplicity, and inside the box, you'll find only a router, power cord and USB stick, which is used both to install local software to manage the network (again, like Apple's Base Stations) and to preserve and duplicate saved settings across computers in a network.

Here's the process:

  • Open box
  • Connect router to cable modem and power outlet
  • Insert Easy Setup USB Key
  • Follow directions of Cisco Connect software that loads.

For lack of a more eloquent description, it's stupid easy.

But stupid is good. In a world awash with consumer electronics made by technologists, there is a space needed for gadgets made by those focused on the human experience.

That's why the Valet is so welcome.

Within the Cisco Connect software, the user can add additional devices to the network, set parental controls, provide Internet access for guests on a separate network and customize personal security settings.

Throughput speeds? Range? Testing these for this product would be missing the point. Valet exists to help someone who neither knows nor cares about home networking to set one up.

If it works -- and it does -- nothing else matters.

Cisco offers two models: Valet, for small and medium-sized homes, which retails for $99.99; and Valet Plus, for medium and larger homes, for $149.99.

Both models come with free 24/7 phone support, and are available at most major electronics retailers.

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