Upscale, Cisco-branded router works well... until it doesn't.

Jun 17, 2011
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Dual-band, N-spec, DOCSIS-compliant WiFi router with SPI firewall. Looks really cool!

Cons:Beauty's only skin deep. It might work OK for you, but why take the chance?

The Bottom Line: You might be tempted to buy one on sale as new generations cycle in. Don't - it's not worth the glitchy performance.

The Linksys WRT400N WiFi router is a dual-band wireless router that is sleek, smooth, and sexy-looking. If only it performed as good as it looks, everything would be great. Unfortunately... well, you can see where this is going already, can't you?

Linksys' parent company is Cisco, the networking giants, and on this product they imprinted their logo dead center on the top of the device. It's actually larger than the Linksys logo positioned below. The subtext here is "We're Cisco. Trust us." And I must admit, it was a powerful inducement. I had used Netgear for years, but purchased this device because it had that Cisco cache and, well, it looked so doggone cool - you have to give them that.

Although it functioned passably for nearly a year, there were warning signs along the way that all was not well. Reboots were needed often; sometimes once a week, after some wireless computers simply couldn't "see" the router, while others worked fine. The Cisco remote reboot widget for Windows Sidebar worked some of the time; most of the time I had to pull power manually. The 5GHz-band router couldn't be "read" by some of my laptops. And signal quality was spotty, never as good as Linksys claimed it should be. Oh, and the one-button connection scheme NEVER worked.

One day last week, I woke to find that none of my wireless devices had Internet connections. Computers connected to wired LAN ports functioned fine, and all computers could "see" each other on the network - just no WiFi Internet gateway. It took several hours of troubleshooting, firmware flashing and packet snooping to realize that the router's internal gateway had suddenly, inexplicably, grenaded. It was nothing short of disastrous, as I work at home. I pulled out my old Netgear router and slammed it in the empty hole, and managed to limp through the day. But the Linksys was toast.

For a device that cost almost $100, carrying the aura of Cisco's name, I expected better performance, less glitches, and a service life far longer than 11 months. I've gone back to Netgear, and advise you to do the same.

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