Linksys WAG320N router review: Network admin made easy

We thought we take a look at the new Linksys WAG320N ADSL2+ modem, which provides easy access to Gigabit Ethernet and functions as a Dual band wireless router.

Out of the box, the smooth black pebble that is the WAG320N immediately makes an impression, looking slighty futuristic, in a retro way, but better looking than the vast majority of ugly boxes that tend to define the router market. As you’d expect, all the cables, leads and micro filters you need are included.

Swapping out my default router from my ISP was relatively straightforward, and anyone who has ever set up a network should be right at home. Configuring the modem is done via an installation CD and if you are with a major Internet Service Provider you will have no issues. Simply select your provider and your Internet will be configured automagically. otherwise you will have to manually configure your router. after 30 mins faffing about with my ISP on the phone for settings, I was good to go.

The router comes with lots of neat little features that required minimum knowledge to set up and basically allows you to play Network Admin (a fun pastime and I’m sure a board game is in the works). You can monitor usage of devices on your network, blocks certain websites or time restrict web access and there is simple yet powerful keyword and URL filtering. Of course technocrati reading this will know how to do all these things and more on a regular router but the WAGE320 puts power into the hands of regular folk. Also with the controversial Digital Economy bill it’s a little bit more important to be responsible for your network traffic (whether you like it or not). a handy feature was the ability to view everyone on the network and identify free loaders on your network.

The routers performance is solid with no drop-outs on ADSL2+ performance and the MIMO technology reduces dead spots. I ran multiple devices across the network with no problems. there is a USB storage port at the back so it’s pretty easy to share stuff over a network. You can also set up a DLNA server, which is excellent if you have a modern TV or set-top box and want to stream pictures, music or video. 1080p mkv’s stutter a little wirelessly and I’d recommend a wired connection if you are planning on streaming heavily, but 720p content played back over-the-air fine. You can also set up an FTP server so you can remotely access content online or share it.

On the downside you can’t run mixed 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz networks but it is quite fast if you want one or the other and is cheaper most routers that can support mixed networks.

The WAG320N is about £100. if you move fast you might be able to catch the end of LinkSys’s cash back promotion with PC World, where you if buy any Linksys by Cisco Wireless-N router you can trade in your old one and receive a £20 reward. The promotion lasts until 27 August 2010.

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