PROS / The Cisco-Linksys CM100 Cable Modem is reliable and easy to set up.
CONS / It doesn’t support DOCSIS 3.0.
VERDICT / The CM100 is an excellent choice for users whose ISPs support DOCSIS 2.0.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Linksys, a division of Cisco Systems, Inc., manufactures a DOCSIS 3.0 compliant cable modem, the Linksys WCM300 Channel Bonded Cable Modem. However it is sold directly to cable operators and is not available for purchase in the retail channel. The Cisco-Linksys CM100 Cable Modem, which supports DOCSIS 2.0, is for sale from retailers other than ISPs and therefore included in our cable modem reviews.
The Linksys CM100 connects to any computer with a Fast Ethernet connection. Windows users have the option to connect via USB port. Support for the DOCSIS 2.0 standard means that the Linksys CM100 is backwards compatible with ISPs that are still on the DOCSIS 1.0 and 1.1 standards. Although the Linksys CM100 enables Internet connections that are 100 times faster than dial-up, its connections are a quarter of the speed that would be theoretically possible with a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem.
The CM100 ships with a CD that contains the user guide and USB drivers (for Windows users who want to use the USB port rather than the Fast Ethernet port to connect a PC to the cable modem). Setup is easy. Connect the modem to the cable in the wall and connect the computer to the modem with the Ethernet cable. If the ISP doesn’t automatically register the media access control address upon connection, then register the device with the ISP by providing the media access control address by telephone.
The front panel contains LED lights that display the status of certain functions. A Power LED shows solid green after the self test. When the cable modem is locked on an upstream signal, the Upstream LED is solid green. It flashes when the cable modem is trying to lock on an upstream signal. The Online LED flashes green when the cable modem is establishing a connection with the ISP. It goes solid when the cable modem is synchronized with the ISP. A Link LED is green when the cable modem is connected to a computer or network via the Ethernet or USB port. The Link LED flashes whenever there is activity on the Ethernet or USB port. When it becomes necessary to clear the cable modem’s connections and restore it to factory default settings, a reset button on the back panel is available.
Some users complain that the Linksys CM100 has no power switch, which means that the unit must be unplugged in order to turn it off. Other users complain that the LEDs are bright enough to be annoying at night. Another complaint is that the media access control address that needs to be provided to the ISP in order to establish service is in tiny print that requires a magnifying glass to decipher.
Cisco supports the Linksys CM100 with a one-year warranty and provides help in the form of 24/7 live chat. Other ways in which Cisco provides help and support include email, Frequently Asked Questions and access to community forums.
Linksys has come a long way since its 1988 origins in an Irvine, California, garage. Taiwanese immigrant founders, Janie and Victor Tsao, started with printer sharers to connect PCs to printers. They soon added Ethernet hubs, network cards and cords, which they sold through Fry’s Electronics and Best Buy in the United States. After Linksys sold one million cable/DSL routers, it became visible on Cisco Systems’ radar and Cisco acquired Linksys in 2003 for $500 million. Because the Linksys brand was so firmly established in the consumer electronics market, Cisco let Linksys stand as its own separate division. And Cisco continued the Linksys brand as “Linksys by Cisco,” rather than absorb the Linksys brand into the collective Cisco Borg. Linksys was Cisco’s first entry into the consumer market and continues to be a resounding success story.
The Cisco-Linksys CM100 Cable Modem is no different from other cable modems in that they all have a tuner, a demodulator, a modulator, a media access control device and a microprocessor. A DOCSIS 2.0 cable modem is a commodity with little to differentiate among competitors. Nevertheless the CM100 emerges as a leader because of the strength of its brand identity and market penetration along with the reliability of its hardware, the ease with which it can be deployed and especially the excellence of help and support.