by Nick Spohn, Illinois USA
This is a review of the Linksys WRT54G 802.11 g router. I purchased this router in July of 2005 when I switched my internet service from dial-up to cable highspeed. The router was purchased at a local BestBuy for about $70 USD at the time, but lucky for me there was $30 in total rebates available in July which brought the final price down to $40.
Here are a few Specs for the Linksys WRT54G Wireless Router:
Everything in the box (view larger imge)
Included with this router:
Reason For Purchase
I needed a basic, cheap router to have wireless internet in my home. I went to Best Buy to see what was available on the shelves and a representative there recommended this router for its good reputation and good price, but warned me that it is a little difficult to setup. I figured I could handle the setup, so that was not a deterrent. I wanted something with mixed capabilities (802.11b and 802.11g), but 802.11a was not necessary, so this router suited my needs perfectly. At the time, I used an Intel PRO 2100 card wireless card (802.11b) in my notebook, but knew I wanted to upgrade to an 802.11g wireless card so I wanted to "future proof" myself by buying a faster router than I really needed at the time.
Design and Looks
The looks of this router are fairly decent, the purplish/blue and black color have been used by Linksys for a long time. Having said that, with a router performance is far more important than looks so this was mostly irrelevant to the decision making process.
Above view of Linksys WRT54G wireless router (view larger image)
I wanted something that would tell me what's going on with the router via visual feedback on the router itself, and the WRT54G has various LED lights to accomplish that. The WRT54G has LED light indicators for the following status indicators: Power, DMZ (firewall), WLAN status, LAN (1,2,3,4), Internet.
Back side view of ports on the Linksys WRT54G (view larger image)
Front view of Linksys router (view larger image)
Size wasn't much of a concern in my purchase decision either. This router is not the smallest, definitely not a travel router, but it's fine for a home/ home office setup. The dimensions of the router (W x H x D): 7.31" x 1.88" x 6.16". Its weight tips the scale at 1.06 lbs.
Bottom view of Linksys Router
Security is always a concern, so I was looking for something with WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). The WRT54G has 128-Bit WEP and WPA which allows you to securely send and receive data via the router and force a logon to allow use of the router so your neighbors can't just start borrowing your internet connection.
Setup and Configuration
When I first went to setup the router my internet connection wasn't working due to problems with my new high-speed cable connection ISP provider. When I finally got my internet up and running, I tried to install my router and figured it would be easy. But man was I wrong, they advertise the setup process as "Secure Easy Setup", which in fact, it wasn't at all. The full instructions were only on the CD in PDF format. The router just didn't work even after following step-by-step instructions, so I kept trying to redo the setup in case I missed something. After doing a couple resets to the router, and countless iterations of the same setup process, I finally got it working after about 2 hours. To this day I don't know what the specific issue is that caused setup problems when following the CD instructions.
The Linksys "Easy Connect" router Administration website that can be accessed by typing in the routers IP makes configuring the router fairly easy at least. If there are a bunch of people close to you that use this router and you need to change the router to avoid conflicts, then you can do it through this only admin area and it's fairly (although not completely) easy to use. There are various other settings and wizards you can adjust for things such as the router's firewall and security settings via the router admin site.
Other people have had easier times setting up this router based on other opinions and reviews I've seen, but there's also a lot of complaints and people often say it's easier to setup routers by competitors such as Netgear.
I'm amazed at what this router has gone through. In the past, I have gotten mad and have thrown this router across the room and it still worked perfectly! It has also survived a couple of drops due to dogs running around and bumping it and it has fallen 3 ft off my desk (not my fault of course). I am just very happy that this router has held up to all the abuse it has gone through! If you have toddlers or pets and stuff gets knocked down constantly, this might be a good router for you based on my experience.
The one thing that makes this router shine, is that it always provides flawless connections at long ranges. I don't have any dead spots in my house and can get a decent connection signal from just about anywhere. I never have problems with the router cutting out and disconnecting me. In fact, from July to present I can't recall one time I've been connected to the router and then been disconnected.
Worth noting is that the router stays cool via 196 little ventilation holes on top of the router, and 188 ventilation holes underneath the router. You'll never put your hand on this and get burned, it always stays cool.
When first accessing the router via its IP to use the built-in Administration site I couldn't find what the password protected login was for router. So I contacted Linksys through their online chat support. It took a while for their chat agent to respond, or sometimes during the chat they didn't even respond back at all, but I did finally get the help I needed -- which turned out to be having to use "admin" as the username and password for the first time of logging into the router.
I would recommend this router for people that have had routers before. However, if this is your first time buying a wireless router and aren't tech savvy, then I would look at Netgear or another brand that has a wireless router known to have easy setup. Overall I'm satisfied with the product as it provides great performance and the durability is good.
Pricing and Availability: Linksys WRT54G 802.11 g router
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