I received this item on Monday, 5/8/2017. I like to get my reviews in ASAP, however, due to my schedule last week, I wasn't able to hook it up and test it until later in the week. Then, as with any new router, I always like to give it 2-3 days or so to stabilize so I can test to see how it does after being up and running for consecutive days.
The packaging itself is pretty nice. It's a sturdy box with the black foam on the inside, giving it that "premium" feel of getting your money's worth. This is pretty standard fare, I've found, with most modern top-tier routers. Packaging was minimal, only a few loose folded leaflets, the necessary power cable and brick and ethernet cable. I did like that the antennas were already attached to the router and didn't have to be screwed on.
The router is very slick, very modern, but doesn't look "overdone" like some others I've seen that look like a dead bug, upside down. LOL. It has 6 antennas total, 4 on the sides and two in the back. Each antenna can be rotated and then tilted "outwards" into 3 different notches. Very adjustable and they feel very sturdy, not flimsy at all.
Setup had a few hitches. With this being a brand new router, I assumed that like the Velop that came before it, that Linksys was requiring the app for all new routers to be set up. That is actually not the case. I tried using the app to set it up, but to no avail. Then, after rebooting the modem because I didn't have internet, the Linksys screen finally popped up on my computer. From there, I was able to set up the SSID broadcast name, combine the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands into one SSID name, create the usual 32-character password for WiFi and sign into the Linksys account. Nothing too complicated, it's very step-by-step that should fair pretty easy, even for someone without a lot of home network knowledge. Also, it did automatically update the firmware on-the-spot and without fail. The firmware updates are set for automatic and this really does work. You do NOT have to worry about manually updating the firmware on these new routers from my experiences. It gets uploaded/updated to the router within 24 hours of being posted on their website.
As for performance, given that this is a single router system and not a fancy "mesh" network system like the Velop that Linksys released back during CES 2017 in January, I have to say, it has great coverage. After setting up and adjusting the antennas to the right pivot, I was able to eek out about 1,750 - 2,000 sq. ft. before hitting a dead zone. The ENTIRE house is covered, as well as about 90% of the yard. Checking speeds, even when about 25+ft from the router, we capped out on the internet speed (60MB where I live). All devices were wireless, except for the home PC, which consistently capped out at 66MB. For WiFi devices, we tried an iPhone 7 Plus, an older Galaxy S4, another Android phone from Straight Talk, and a Windows laptop. Given some of these devices used the 5GHz band and the older ones, the 2.4 GHz band, I was able to test the speed on a variety of older and newer devices, which all performed well. The 2.4 GHz devices did seem to taper off more at the same range as the 5GHz ones, which makes me believe that the 2.4 band doesn't reach as far as I'm used too, but that's OK. I'd much prefer having a really quality 5GHz band at the expense of the 2.4GHz range/quality...the older devices I have will eventually (and sooner, rather than later) phase themselves out of the household. :-)
After the "setup day" and leaving the router to fend for itself for a few days after, I've not had any issues with buffering on the PS3 device I tested (2.4 GHz band), the steaming stick or any other device. Performance thus far has been rock solid. The only time I rebooted the router was after the initial setup (which is usually a general rule of thumb to do, anyway).
I would definitely recommend this router to anyone, even for someone whom has never set up a router before. For the retail price, it's a worthy competitor to some other brands that I've owned before. I used to really dislike Linksys. After Belkin bought them out, I was even more leary of the brand. The first few routers they cranked out after the acquisition did leave some to be desired, but now, they are really rolling out the punches. I just really hope that Linksys continues with the firmware updates and doesn't abandon any of their newer (2017) routers soon, as I've seen this happen quite often in the past. They release a new product, support it for about 6 months or so, then abandon it.