The Linksys WRT54G wireless router for broadband connections has a similar internal configuration as the WAP54G, its predecessor. However, it does come with a bunch of external improvisations and upgrades, along with a sleek body and antennas. Linksys has been known to provide affordable and well-defined products in this segment for a long time. It has a slight edge over its competitors for creating easy to use and install products but loses out in terms of quality and high-speed performance.
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Let's take a look at its basic features:
The router itself comes in the same grey and purple plastic box setup. The indicator lights are in the front portion of this box and are bright enough to be viewable from various angles. These lights represent the following indications: The activity, the collision, and one for the 100Mbps indicator for the four 10/100 ports for LAN and one for the 10/100 Ethernet connection. There are also separate lights to indicate link and activity lights and also power, DMZ and diag indicators.
A notable improvement here would be that the LED lights which indicate wireless activity blinks only when the wireless activity is on, as opposed to being on and blinking all the time. This pretty much lets the user know when the wireless connection is on or off, which is a useful feature. There are four ports for 10/100 LAN and one port for 10/100 WAN. There's also a reset switch and a power jack next to it, which helps with resetting and rebooting the router to factory settings if the need arises.
The ports are auto MDI/MDI-X, and this is great because no matter what hubs or ports to connect them to, the connection will be seamless and instant.
Setting up the WRT54G can be done in two ways, by either running a utility for Windows-only setup and choosing the WAN and LAN types manually, or by visiting their built-in interface for setting up and following the specified instructions from thereon. This router comes with a factory default setting of 192.168.1.1 so it's pretty easy to just plug it into a client that allows the IP address to be obtained automatically. This can be done using a basic default password.
Just in case there is an overload for the user information setup, then the selector for the internet configuration type refreshes the browser automatically and displays the different appropriate settings for Static IP, PPTP, DHCP and so on. All the basic options like LAN and WAN router are easily visible on the first set up screen, making it easy to choose the right options.
When it comes to design, the router has a rather sleek and easy on the eyes finish, while the colors are leading too. The router is easy to handle and also lightweight in nature. It comes with two detachable antennas, which is a definite plus for this model. Another interesting thing to note is that the set up for this router is rather easy and simple to understand, even for a beginner who hasn't done this previously. The set up also comes with simple instructions.
The detachable antennas make it easy to move the router around, so portability is a definite yes for this model.
In terms of pricing, it's affordable and definitely cheaper than most of the other routers that are its immediate competition in the market. It connects and works well with different types of operating systems with the same amount of ease.
It comes with a top speed of up to 21 Mbps, which is absolutely great, considering most routers don't cross 15 Mbps under the same price segment. For this reason alone, anyone who is looking for a fast but cheap wireless connection should consider buying this router. However, if you're looking for an even faster connection, then a commercial grade router would be a better choice.
For short range connections also, this router is definitely slower than other routers. The range is slightly constricted and also, the PCI radio needs to be switched off for the wireless connection to have a better range of connectivity.
The previous WAP54G model came with inbuilt wireless bridging capabilities, something which is not available in this particular model. Although as an access point it does work perfectly fine, but the bridging feature is not as powerful. So for someone who is looking for both routing and bridging wirelessly, this router might not be the best option in the market.
One of its prime weaknesses, which holds true for most Linksys routers, is the mixing of LAN and WAN connectivity which ultimately slows down its overall performance. Most routers in the higher price segment come with easy switching between the two modes. However, this router can end up slowing down the 11g clients to a very minimal pace.
The Linksys WRT54G router is definitely a good buy for someone who isn't looking at full-blown commercial usage and doesn't want to spend too much on a router. That means, this router works best for at-home usage and also deliver s a pretty decent speed that can be topped off only by commercial routers. Although it does lack basic bridging features, the wireless connectivity is of decent range, although there have been complaints of slow pace in terms of switching between WAN and LAN connections. However, due to its easy setup options and simple hardware configuration, this router might be the best choice for a beginner. It is important to note though that it isn't much of an upgrade from its previous WAP54G model, so if you're looking to buy something that shows more of an upgrade, you might want to wait a few months for the next versions to arrive.
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