At just around $50, the Linksys E1200 is the most affordable in Cisco's new refreshed E series of Wireless-N routers. For this reason, it's also the one that offers the least. It's a single-band router with no bells and whistles. In our testing, it offered some of the lowest throughput and shortest range of the routers we compared.
The E1200's saving grace, apart from its affordability, is the fact that its as easy to use as the rest of the E series, thanks to the included Cisco Connect software and its signal stability. If you're looking for a simple entry-level Wireless-N router so you can share Internet access in a small apartment or office, the E1200 will get the job done. Otherwise, spend a little more for a more robust router, such as the Linksys E3200 or even the Linksys E1500.
Design, ease of use
The Linksys E1200 has the same flat UFO design as the rest of the new E series: compact, good-looking, and with internal antennas. It's not wall-mountable.
Similar to the E2500 and E1500, on its back the E1200 has four LAN ports and one WAN port, the push button for the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) feature, and the power connector. The router has no status lights on the front as other routers do. In fact, it has no indicator lights at all, except for the LEDs on each of the ports, which can't be seen from the front.
The router can be set up via the included Cisco Connect software, which makes the job a no-brainer. All you have to do is pop the CD into a computer and then follow the onscreen instructions; this gets most of the work done without your interaction.
Once the software has configured the router with Internet access--live Internet access is required for the software to work, by the way--it will pick a catchy name, such as YellowMonkey, and an easy-to-remember password for your wireless network. You can either keep that name and password or type in ones of your liking before finishing the initial setup.
In addition to the setup process, with the Cisco Connect software you can also turn the guest network on or off, manage the parental control features, and run the included Speed Test tool that shows how fast the connection to the Internet is.
If you want to use the router in an isolated network that's disconnected from the Internet, or take advantage of other functions, you'll need to log in to the router's Web interface. You can get there by following the "advanced setup" link within Cisco Connect, or by pointing a connected computer's browser to the router's default IP address, which is 192.168.1.1.
Note that if you want to skip using Cisco Connect and use just the Web interface to manage the router, by default the password to log in to the interface is "admin," with the username being left blank.