The E1500 is a rather basic Wireless-N router with Cisco's SpeedBoost feature, which is designed to provide a long-range connection. The router doesn't have dual-band or Gigabit Ethernet. It does, however, offer Guest Networking, so you can set up a separate wireless network that is isolated from your main network. Clients connected to the guest network have access to the Internet but not your local resources such as files or a printer.
The Guest Network is limited to only 10 users at a time. You can use the Cisco Connect software to set it up and to manage the router's Parental Control feature, which can restrict access to the Internet for chosen clients in the network.
If you want to use other features of the router, such as fixed IP address or port forwarding, you'll need to use the router's Web interface. If you want to create a VPN connection, FTP access, or a remote desktop connection to a computer in the network, you will find this handy and convenient.
The Web interface also gives access to the router's Applications and Gaming feature, which lets you set port forwarding and triggering for specific applications such as games, remote desktop, or FTP and HTTP servers. Like most recent routers, the Linksys E1500 supports all available wireless encryption standards, including WEP, WPA, and WPA2. The router allows for VPN passthrough for all existing VPN protocols including IPsec (Internet Protocol security), L2TP, and PPTP, meaning that with the router at home you can use a VPN client to access your office computer via a VPN connection.
Note, however, that if you use the Web interface to change some settings of the router, such as the password or the name of the wireless network, the Cisco Connect software will stop working with it. To use the software again, you'll need to reset the router to its default settings (and lose the existing configuration) and set up the router again from the beginning.
The Linksys E1500 in our testing managed a maximum distance of about 300 feet, which is very long. Note, however, that at this distance the connection was only good for checking e-mail or very light Internet surfing. The router also passed our 48-hour stress test, during which it didn't disconnect once.
In terms of throughput performance, the E1500 did well for a router of its price and physical size. Though it didn't blow us away, it earned a high position in our 2.4GHz charts with 62Mbps on the close-range test, just behind the 74.2Mbps of the E200.
In the range test, the E1500 scored 37.4Mbps, about the average, and in the mixed-mode test, where it worked with both Wireless-N and legacy wireless clients, it scored 44.5Mbps, which was also an average score.
Overall, the Cisco E1500's performance met our expectation. It also worked well throughout our testing without any hiccups.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Service and support
Cisco backs the Linksys E1500 with a one-year limited warranty, which though short is the same as for most routers on the market. Cisco's toll-free phone support is available 24-7, as is online chat with a support representative. The company's Web site hosts software, drivers, and firmware downloads as well as an FAQ section.
The Linksys E1500 is a good home Wireless-N router for people without strong networking skills. The router will be an even better buy when its street price is lower than its currently suggested retail price of $80.