Something I really appreciated is that they put a sticker with the SSID and password ON TOP of the router. This was really nice. Most manufacturers put this information on THE BOTTOM making it slightly obnoxious when setting up your router for the first time. The setup is pretty straight forward, but seemed a little sluggish - especially when determining your network configuration. It has a really intuitive feature where it’ll figure out how it’s connected to your ISP. So for example, if it’s connected to another router it’ll automatically figure that out and make changes based on that.
Essentially, I connected my computer and was re-directed in a web browser to the router’s setup page(routerlogin.net). There it guided me step-by-step to getting my router online. When I buy a new router the first thing I do is update the firmware - this one will do it for you during the setup. Most issues are resolved with firmware updates, and getting that done right out of the box was a smart move! One last cool touch - during the setup you can register it and it automatically pulls the serial number for you. No more copying down the serial number from the bottom of the router.
LOOK AND FEEL
The first thing I noticed when I picked it up is that it felt slightly heavier and more substantial than other routers I’ve used in the past. I’ve been using a newer Linksys router(EA6300), and this one definitely feels more premium. Something else that impressed me is that it came with a shielded CAT5E cable. No other router I’ve purchased has included a shield cable (let alone a snagless one). Very cool.
One of the things I really appreciate about this router is its feature set. Things that are most important to me are the ability to plug in an external USB drive, an FTP server and VPN - this router has all three. I’ve been wanting to use an app on my phone that will automatically upload my pictures to a local FTP server when I arrive home. My previous router had an FTP server, but it automatically opened it up to the WHOLE WORLD without giving you the option to not. I only wanted my FTP server to be accessible locally and this router allows me to do that. Additionally, I liked that you can view traffic meters and that it has a subset of features normally reserved for IT professionals(Like my self). Access Control is also a really cool feature. With Access Control you can view and block devices from connecting to your network as well as see how they are connected(Wireless or wired). It also shows you which device is connected to which SSID which is helpful.
ReadySHARE is pretty slick. When I plugged in my USB hard drive it automatically mounted the drive and started sharing it without me having to do anything else. It’s fairly easy to create new shares. You can share your files via FTP, HTTP/HTTPS, and SMB. It also has a feature called ReadyCLOUD which I have not yet tried but essentially it will allow you to have your own personal file storage cloud. Think having your own Dropbox/Box/One Drive, etc. However, one thing I wish it did have was the ability for me to create accounts for the shares so they weren’t open on my network to anyone. That feature might be in there, but I haven’t found it yet. Additionally, it has two USB ports and either can be used for an external drive. One is a USB 2.0 in the back, and then a USB 3.0 in the front. I like that it has a USB 3.0 port, however I feel like for where I would put a router I would rather have both in the back.
As a side note, this will stream uncompressed blurays to Kodi(XBMC) just fine.
This router is FAST and gives me MUCH better signal in my house. I live in a town home that was built in the 1970s and the whole down stairs is encased in cement. To say the least, it’s challenging for wireless. My router is located downstairs in my entertainment center right next to a cement wall. I took some measurements in a previously weak signal area of my home and it got much better with this router.
A lower RSSI number is better. RSSI means Received Signal Strength Indicator.
Linksys EA6300 Router
2.4GHZ: RSSI 60dBm
5GHZ: RSSI 70dBm
2.4GHZ: RSSI 47dBm
5GHZ: RSSI 59dBm
Additionally, I have a Dropcam security camera in my entryway that would always have gaps in recording, and I would see an error inside the app that indicated it had low signal strength. That error is gone and as far as I can tell, no more gaps in recording. The Dropcam is located in such a place that it is blocked directly by a cement wall so it’s impressive that this router overcomes it.
In all honesty, I’m really pleased with this router. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a router that needs range for larger homes, or who have challenging wireless environments but don’t want to spend a ton. This router is a little less than NETGEAR’s Nighthawk series but I feel like for the performance, you get just as much and pay a little less.
Finally, as a member of NETGEAR's F&F program I'd like to thank them for sending me this router. I received it for free to review and provide my honest and unbiased opinion. Seriously though, I'm super stoked about this router.