In the box you get the router, a power lead, an ethernet cable, a quick installation guide and an installation CD.
The first thing that strikes me is that although the ethernet cable is a useful length, the power lead is a bit on the short side. Both measure at 1.5m, which is fine for ethernet, but a bit short for power in my opinion. It is easy enough to get a longer ethernet cable if you need one, but the power lead should have a little more flexibility when it comes to installing the router.
The router has a very modern-looking sleek design, and if you are used to older wireless routers you will notice that there are no antennas. This doesn't seem to have any affect on the wireless range however which was as good, if not better, than my previous wireless-G router.
The quick installation guide lived up to its name - a 50 page booklet simply telling you to use the installation CD.....in 13 languages. That aside, the installation of the router was a breeze and is clearly explained by the setup program.
Put in the CD, connect the router to your power outlet, connect the 'internet' port on the rear of the router to your broadband modem - and when you click 'ok' the software automatically configures a basic working setup.
Once installed, you are given the Cisco Connect screen which is the place to go to configure all aspects of the routers setup.
You will find the setup software has automatically assigned the router a name and password for your network. This is great for less-technical users who just want to plug and play - although advanced users may find the easy accessibility of these important network details a bit of a worry.
Fortunately, from the Cisco Connect screen more advanced users can access the 'Router Settings' area and manually configure the router directly from their browser - the same as with any router they will have come across previously.
However, before you go in there, please be aware that accessing the advanced settings and changing the default router name disables the 'easy' Cisco Connect screen. You do get warned about this before you proceed. This may be fine, except it appears the only way you can configure the 'Guest Access' feature (more on this later) is through Cisco Connect. All other features are accessible from the 'advanced' browser screen.
This is very odd, and a potential problem for those wishing to change the setup of the guest access feature. I would advise you at least take a note of the guest log-in details before you go and perform any advanced configuration of the router.
The main impression you get though is that there has been considerable effort to make the setup and basic configuration of the router much more user friendly - something anybody can do without strong IT skills - and this must be a good thing.
The other areas you can access through the Cisco Connect screen provide some excellent options, and make the E-Series of routers quite powerful.
An area showing the devices connected to the router and where you can add new ones. You can choose to connect another computer, a wireless printer, a smartphone or games console. When choosing the computer option, the software prompts you to create an 'easy setup key' which can be written to a USB stick for easily adding new computers to the network.
You insert the USB stick in any computer you want on the network, run the program that has been stored there, and the software automatically configures that computer and connects to the router. This works well and is another great feature for non-technical types.
The parental controls area is a nice feature for those of us with kids. It is a password protected area where we can limit the times that certain computers can access the internet. You can also limit the access to certain websites. Limiting the access cannot be done per user log-in on each computer, but there is enough control to make this a useful feature.
Here we can create a guest password (created by default but can be changed....... as long as you haven't already disabled Cisco Connect!), where users can come into our homes and connect to the internet using a guest log-in account. This means they can access the internet without having access to the files on the network.
Next: Dual-Band Configuration