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The WAG160N shares Linksys' new design philosophy (also seen on the WRT310N), which is to make smaller, more discrete Wireless-N devices without the multiple external antennae and a sleek design that wouldn't look out of place on the deck of the Starship Enterprise. Out the back of the WAG160N it's very much business as usual however, with four 10/100 Ethernet ports, a red reset button and a DSL input socket.
In accordance with Linksys' long-standing policy for routers, the first thing that drops out of the packaging when you open the box is a large blue folder with a CD-based installation utility on board. We've not been a big fan of Linksys' CD-based installers in the past, finding many of them incompatible with Australian ISP settings, but with the introduction of Linksys' LELA (Linksys EasyLink Advisor) package, our opinion has changed. More on LELA later. LELA is Windows (XP/Vista) and Mac OS X (10.4 or better) compatible.
The setup routine itself is well laid out and animated, and includes pre-configured settings for iiNet, Internode, Optus, Soul, Telstra and TPG. If you're with an alternate ISP, you'll need to enter most of your settings manually.
The WAG160N's big selling point is the inclusion of Wireless N Draft 2.0 compatibility, although to Linksys' credit, they don't plaster the outside packaging with lots of claims of 300mbps connection speed. The back of the box does have a silly speed graph comparing 802.11g and Wireless N, but even there numbers are omitted. Something tells us that perhaps networking companies are waking up and dumping the hype cycle around 802.11n.
The WAG160N is also an ADSL2+ router. Some users love all-in devices for their simplicity, although the flip side of that is that you're setting up a single failure point in your network. As with most home routers, wireless security (WEP, WPA2 Personal and Enterprise) is supported, along with QoS settings for applications and UPnP. It also supports WiFi Protected setup if you have compatible adaptors.
Using LELA to set up the WAG160N was a suitably painless process, and we tested with both Windows and Mac boxes, just to spot if there were any particular differences. There's one big difference, and it's one that's not made terribly clear on the packaging. LELA comprises two components; an initial setup wizard that's not terribly dissimilar to the wizards Linksys has used in the past, and a network monitoring tool that identifies the elements of your wired and wireless network. Windows users get both parts of the package, but the Mac world has to make do with only the setup wizard.