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Linksys' new design for Wi-Fi routers flies in

New routers from Linksys boast cool design.

Linksys's all-new futuristic design for wireless routers. Corinne Schulze, CNET Networks

Linksys has launched a completely new design for its upcoming routers, and today I got my hands on the first one: the RangePlus Wireless Router (WRT110).

Out of the box, I loved it! It immediately reminded me of a flying saucer (not that I remember the last time I saw a real one), though the router is not exactly round. The new design boasts a sleek and futuristic look. It also has a much smaller footprint and is lighter than the previous models. Still, it feels solid and the thin plate-like shape makes it stay more grounded on the surface, reducing the chances of flopping around like Linksys' other bulky routers. The best of the new design is the omission of the external antennas. While internal antenna design is not new and has been found in Netgear's RangeMax routers for a while, this is the first compact router design that has this. The result: it's truly compact.

The RangePlus Wireless Router WRT110 port layout. Corinne Schulze, CNET Networks

The WRT110's layout is very simple, straightforward yet very effective. On the back, there are four 10/100 LAN ports, a WAN port, the reset button, and the power port. On the front, or should I say on the top toward the front--as the front of the router is flat--you'll find the LED indicators that show the status of the LAN/WAN ports, the wireless connection and the connection to the Internet, as well as the power. In the middle of those LEDs is the button to initiate Wi-Fi Protected Setup. WPS is a feature that allows for quickly adding a WPS-enabled client to the wireless network without having to manually type in the encryption key.

The WRT110 is based on Linksys's new RangePlus technology that's, in terms of throughput speed, somewhere between 802.11g and 802.11n. Though not as fast as the Draft N standard, the WRT110 promises significant improvement in both range and throughput, compared with other 802.11g routers. RangePlus is the successor of Linksys' old-school SpeedBooster (which is Linksys's answer to the RangeMax technology of Netgear or the RangeBooster technology of D-Link). The main difference between the two is that while the proprietary Speedbooster requires a special adapter to take advantage of the potential throughput gain, the RangePlus is said to work well with any 802.11n-compatible wireless adapters. This means a computer with an 802.11n wireless adapter will enjoy near 802.11n throughput speed with the WRT110. For this reason, I am going to make an exception and do an in-depth review of this one. (Starting in 2008, we generally do performance analysis on 802.11n routers only). Come back to CNET reviews site soon to see how the WRT110's performance stacks up against other 802.11n routers.

If you can't wait to see how it performs, and are already sold merely by the design, the WRT110 is available to purchase now for about $80, which is a pretty good deal in my opinion.