Linksys E3000 Review: Still A Lot Of Router

The E3000 is Cisco's new king of Linksys routers, replacing the WRT610N. It's a pretty minor upgrade to the previous simultaneous dual-band beast, with two major exceptions.

Price $US180 MSRP.

Models As you'd notice if you were a router nerd, Linksys has ditched all of the old model numbers - but the same basic stratification comes into play. E3000 is the top of a pile of new routers, replacing the WRT610N. Going down the line, you've got two lesser E series routers that both run $US120: the E2100L, which runs Linux out of the box for tweakage, and it has the UPnP server too. The E2000 has selectable dual-band support and gigabit ethernet. Then there's the $US80 E1000, which is the new "cheap" option for wireless N.

Verdict It's got new software that replaces the old and busted Linksys EasyLink Advisor, making it easier to setup. In fact, it shares it with Cisco's new Valet router for that's expressly designed to be eeeeeasy to use. In a nutshell, it sets the router up for you, complete with a non-"please hack me and steal my internet" SSID that's secured, and lets you easily manage basics like guest access. That's a good thing.

The problem is that the actually decent interface doesn't extend to its other new feature, which is a built-in UPnP server that lets you stream media from whatever storage you've got plugged into the USB port. UPnP is still managed by the ancient Linksys interface that's been around for years and years and years. You just try explain to a normal person who wants to stream some movies to their Xbox what the hell is going on here.

Once you do figure it out how to set up access, it works pretty well. You can add and remove files using computer's own file browser as a networked drive, and I was able to stream music to my 360 without a hitch by merely selecting the drive as an A/V source. Video, on the other hand, never worked - for some reason my Xbox never saw them, despite seeing the server clearly. And where's the iTunes server, BTW? D-Link's laws-of-nature-defying photo frame-cum-router has one.

As you can see, it's pretty solid at moving stuff around, on par with my older WRT-600N, the two generations ago version of the E3000. (A transfer of a 1.56GB file to the attached storage took 8 minutes and 45 seconds.)

As for range, typically, we've tested routers at Brian or Jason's houses in California, where there's lots of space, and little urban wireless interference. Instead, I put the E3000 (and it's family-friend cousin the Valet) to perhaps more brutal range tests: How well they handle the interference from a massive flustercuck of wireless networks inside a NY high rise. We're talking 30 other wireless networks at any given test point. Using iStumbler, I couldn't pick up either router more than two floors above or below my apartment, 15m (horizontally) away, but at the worst point for both routers, the E3000's 2.4 GHz band managed about a 10 per cent stronger signal than the Valet and my WRT600N.

All in all, you're getting a solid chunk of router for the money, since you're bound to find it cheaper than the $US180 official price. It's no photo-frame/NAS/BitTorrenter like D-Link's greatest, but the E3000 has a few more router-y things it doesn't, like solid simultaneous dual-band 2.4GHz and 5Ghz wireless.

And that's what it pretty much comes down to: If you need simultaneous dual band, and don't want a Time Capsule, this is probably your router.

New software makes it easier to setup

A lot of router goodness for the money, with UPnP finally

Missing iTunes server, and other perks like BitTorrent downloaders

The storage interface sucks, and makes the UPnP feature less awesome than it could be


Trending Stories Right Now