The Linksys E3000 router is the flagship model in the new E-series range of wireless-N routers, and provides some powerful features to make it an important part of any home network.
The main impression you get while configuring the router is that Linksys have tried to make the installation and administration of this router much more user-friendly.
There are a number of features that are designed to simplify the process of setting-up your home wireless network, and the Cisco Connect software should be easily navigated by a networking novice.
Having said that, more advanced users still have the same browser configuration options as they always have done, and so the router is accessible on a number of levels.
The main drawback to the Cisco Connect software is that a change to the default router name means you can no longer access this screen. This is very inconvenient if you wanted to configure the advanced setup yourself, but then leave it for other users to continue using the simpler Cisco Connect screen. It also completely stops anyone accessing the guest access log-in details, which is very odd. Therefore, configuration of the guest access features should also be available via the more advanced browser setup.
Our testing showed that wireless-N is more than capable of streaming high-definition media files, as long as there is a strong signal available.
The dual-band technology also gives great flexibility in configuring your network for the best performance. However, I also showed that the actual throughput is nowhere near the suggested rates of 300 Mbps, and so it means that wireless networks are still often second best to a cabled setup when it comes to moving high volumes of data.
A good home network will still probably need to make use of a mixture of wireless and wired connections to get the best performance. However, the four port gigabit switch which is included with the E3000 will help to improve the data transfers over any wired connections you may need. It really depends on the types of data you wish to transfer across your network, and the strength of signal you are able to get within your home.
The E3000 also has the additional feature of acting as a UPnP media server, which could potentially save you investing in other hardware to perform this useful task. Just remember, if you don't need the UPnP facility then you should consider the E2000 which has all the other functionality of the E3000 without the USB connection.
One final point that I noticed while using the router over a period of time, is that the base of the unit did become pretty warm. In fact, you could describe it as hot.
It certainly surprised me how warm it was, so much so that the surface below the router also became quite hot too.
I have seen reports elsewhere that this build-up of heat affected the performance of the router, however I saw no evidence of this in the time I was using it.
I contacted Linksys and asked them about this issue, and they said that this was normal and they didn't have any concerns that this would affect performance at all.
The only thing I would suggest regarding this, is that you should give some thought to where you will be placing the router, and keep in mind the base is going to get quite hot. I certainly wouldn't advise stacking the router on another piece of hardware, and make sure it is on a hard, flat surface with some ventilation space around it.
That aside, the Linksys E3000 is a powerful router with plenty of tools to help improve the speed of your home network. It is certainly an improvement over wireless-G technology, and in the right circumstances will provide a useful upgrade to your old router.