Mon, 05 Nov 2012 Linksys EA4500 Smart Wifi Router review
Efficient and versatile rival to Apple’s Airport Extreme
The Linksys EA4500 is a more affordable alternative to Apple’s own Airport Extreme router. It provides similar features, but if you shop around online you can pick it up for less than £100, compared to £139 for the Airport Extreme.
Like the Airport Extreme, the EA4500 is a dual-band 802.11n wireless router that can transmit simultaneously on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bandwidths in order to ensure maximum performance for tasks such as streaming video and online gaming. It has six internal antennae that provide a strong wifi signal – and, to its credit, it did manage to push a good signal right into the dead-spot in my office that my old BT HomeHub router often struggles with.
There are also four Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back of the unit for wired connections, along with a USB port for connecting and sharing a USB hard disk. But, like the Airport Extreme, the EA4500 lacks a built-in modem for your broadband Internet connection. This means that you need to connect it to your existing modem or router in order to provide an Internet connection – which might not suit some people as it means that you end up with two boxes and two sets of cables piling up in the corner.
The software side of things works well, though. The Linksys Setup program guides you quickly through the installation process, and provides simple options for tasks such as setting up shared USB storage and guest access to the network. You can even prioritise specific applications in order to provide top performance for streaming video or games.
Linksys provides its own Cloud Connect app that allows you to configure the router from your mobile devices. And, intriguingly, it also allows third-party developers to produce apps of their own for the router – such as Block The Bad Stuff, which costs 69p and provides additional web filtering options for parents.