Linksys is a networking brand that those of you who have browsed the aisles of PC World or Best Buy will be familiar with. Once owned by Cisco, but recently purchased by Belkin, the Linksys brand is to networking what Heinz is to baked beans. Sure, there are cheaper networking brands around, but if you’re looking for solidly built kit that just works, then Linksys usually provides the goods.
ADSL Modem routers are required for those homes connecting to the Internet via their phone line (as opposed to using a Cable connection such as Virgin Media). Priced around £60.00, the company’s X1000 N300 Wireless Router with ADSL2+ Modem is at the value end of the range.
As a result, features are reasonably limited. Data transfer speeds are decent, as this is a Wireless-N device, but like most routers, you’ll never hit the theoretical 300 Mbps speeds listed in the marketing blurb. On board you’ll find just three “Fast” Ethernet ports for connecting devices with cables, rather than the four you’ll find on more advanced models in the Cisco range. Note too that those ports aren’t the faster “Gigabit” Ethernet flavour that you’ll find elsewhere – when it comes to streaming high definition video, that shouldn’t be a problem but know that you’re making some compromises when selecting this model.
In the box, you’ll find the router, an ADSL filter to connect to your telephone socket (this is required to separate voice signals from your telephone from the data signals that go to the router), Ethernet cable, power adaptor and a modem cable which connects the router to the aforementioned filter.
Also included is a quick installation guide and an installation CD – of course, if you’re using a modern laptop without a CD drive then you can head over to the Linksys support site (http://support.linksys.com/en-eu/support/gateways/X1000) to grab the software for Mac or PC. The bundled Cisco Connect software walks you step by step through connection and configuration of the router. Hooking up routers in the past could be a tricky job, but thankfully, apps like Cisco Connect have made life easy – even for beginners. If you do come unstuck, alongside telephone support, Linksys also offers reasonably comprehensive online support over at http://support.linksys.com/en-us/support/.
Once setup, the Cisco Connect software (and Cisco Connect Express for your Android or iOS mobile device) also helps you manage your network – you can set up a separate wireless network for guests to use, configure parental controls to limit access to the Internet at certain times or block specific locations (handy for getting the homework done). You can wade into more advanced network settings using the app should you wish, measure your network speeds to ensure you’re getting the bandwidth you’re paying your Internet Service Provider for and check for and install firmware updates to keep your router up to date.
Performance at this price range is going to be decent, if not spectacular. That said, wireless speeds are perfectly fine for most online activities you need around the home, including media streaming but if you want to push multiple High Definition video streams around the home, you should look at a more advanced model such as the Linksys X3000 or X3500. For web surfing, social networking, email and remote working, the X1000 does a great job. The three Fast Ethernet ports should also be fine for hooking up a wired or powerline connection to your Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Smart TV – okay, they won’t deliver the fastest streaming speeds available on the market today, but they’re absolutely fine for today’s modern home. If you want to future-proof, again, look higher up the range.
Overall, the Linksys X1000 N300 Wireless Router offers good value for money – it’s not the fastest, best featured or flashiest router on the market today, and if you’re looking for great value, then you should compare the X1000 with budget offerings from TP-Link. But for families looking for a solid, basic ADSL router for standard Internet access and in-home streaming from a well-known stable, then you could do a lot worse than pick up the Linksys X1000.