Linksys by Cisco WAG320N review: Linksys by Cisco WAG320N

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Gigabit Ethernet. 5GHz dual-band radio. Plenty of features. Web UI and software offers better help for the networking neophyte than the competition.

The Bad Is not simultaneous dual-band. Internal routing speed limits its 5GHz throughput. Short warranty period does not inspire confidence.

The Bottom Line The WAG320N establishes itself as a good all rounder by marrying good performance with useful software and a decent set of features. The dual-band is not simultaneous though, it doesn't use 5GHz to its best potential, and the short warranty period is a cause for concern.

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Linksys' "UFO" design has been with us for a while now, and continues to be one of the more attractive router designs on the market. The WAG320N is the ADSL2+ modem/router offering from Cisco's little consumer arm, and manages to not only fit dual-band under the hood, but works in some gigabit Ethernet ports as well. Keep in mind this is a not a simultaneous dual-band router — you'll either have to choose 2.4GHz or 5GHz wireless operating modes exclusively.

Specs at a glance

Firmware tested 1.00.12
ADSL2+ modem Yes
Annex M Yes
3G modem No
Wireless protocols 802.11b/g/n
Highest wireless security WPA2
WDS No
Ethernet ports 4x gigabit
USB print sharing/storage Storage only
Accessories Ethernet cable, phone cable, CD containing quick-start guide, manual, Cisco Network Magic free edition

Connections

Linksys WAG320N rear

ADSL line, four gigabit Ethernet ports, USB port for storage, reset button, power jack, power button. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

UI and features

Gone is LELA (Linksys EasyLink Adviser), Linksys' easy-to-use networking software. It's been replaced with Cisco's Network Magic — although Linksys has not included the full version of the software. This means that you can't use the software to share a printer, share a folder, perform an internet speed test, schedule when a PC on the network can access the internet, take a screenshot of another computer's desktop or track computer usage on the network without opening your wallet for the PC version, or opening it even wider to get Mac compatibility. You can, of course, do all of this already if you're computer savvy, but for those who aren't, it seems a little harsh that they're expected to pay more.

Cisco Network Magic

You can not only manage all your network connections through Network Magic, you can also see the topology of your network. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Cisco Network Magic

You can also manage certain elements of your router without ever loading the web UI... (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Cisco Network Magic

...or other computers on your network, although some features require you to install Network Magic on the remote PC as well. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Interestingly, the freely bundled version only supports Cisco hardware, while the paid version works wherever. We wonder why that isn't a big enough hobble for Cisco to bundle a fully featured version. Most likely because as it stands, no home networking competitor comes close to offering this kind of software, so it feels it can get away with handing out a cut-down version.

The web user interface (UI) is sadly less exciting, but is easy enough to navigate around, and highly featured. There is a help link to the right of every page that opens a pop up explaining all the options. True beginners will likely still be lost among the jargon, but those who are beginning to find their networking feet will appreciate the extra help.

Linksys WAG320N UI

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Where to Buy

Linksys by Cisco WAG320N

Part Number: CNETLinksys by Cisco WAG320N

Typical Price: $189.00

See manufacturer website for availability.