PROS / This router includes parental controls and password-protected guest networking.
CONS / This Linksys router does not include a USB port.
VERDICT / The Linksys E1200 provides excellent security and is simple to setup.
Of all of the wireless routers for the budget conscious, the Linksys E1200 is our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner because it is reliable, easy to use and includes features that are usually associated with higher-priced products. Belkin has bought the Linksys brand from Cisco.
The Linksys E1200 has five Fast Ethernet ports: one for internet access and the rest to support clients on a local area network (LAN). This is one of the home wireless routers on our lineup that conforms to IEEE 802.11n Wi-Fi specifications with a theoretical data throughput of 300Mbps. Wireless n is a leap forward from the previous 802.11g specification, which had a theoretical speed of 54Mbps. Wireless n is backward compatible with wireless g, so wireless g clients can connect to a Wi-Fi network enabled by the Linksys E1200. Even though the router supports dual streams, if a wireless g client connects, it can only access the 20MHz channel, which will result in a theoretical data throughput of 150Mbps.
If you are not on a budget, then by all means purchase an IEEE 802.11ac router. However you would need to buy a new laptop, tablet and smartphone in order to take advantage of the extra speed of ac. If you want to save money, though, the Linksys E1200 should tide you over for a couple of years until the ac routers ship in sufficient quantities for the prices to come down.
With the E1200 home wireless router, parents have a great deal of specific control over how and when children can surf the web. It is possible to block internet access always or never, or at specific times such as on school nights or weekends. Parents can also enter the names of specific sites to block.
Visitors can have their own password-protected internet access. Armed with the name of the guest network and the password, guests can connect to the internet, but they cannot print to any printer that is connected to the local network. Guests cannot access any files on networked computers or see the host's personal data.
State-of-the-art encryption exists in the form of Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA/WPA2). Legacy encryption, Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), is there for clients that adhere to older versions of the Wi-Fi standard. WEP is also necessary if the router is connected to a RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) server, which is a system that authenticates users and devices prior to granting network access. The firewall supports Network Address Translation (NAT) and Stateful Packet Inspections (SPI). NAT presents a single IP address to the internet to represent the entire local area network. SPI detects malware and spyware by examining data packets for threat signatures.
Ease of Use
You can create an Easy Setup key with the wireless settings on a USB flash drive to connect additional computers. A browser-based utility is another way to manage the router configuration settings. In this case, you use a web browser to configure advanced settings. This option is for advanced users who know their way around router administration. People who connect to the network can manage this home wireless router remotely from any external IP address by configuring a remote management port.
After the router is configured, you can save the configuration in backup form to restore the configuration at a later date, if necessary. It is possible to upgrade the router's firmware, which will require reconfiguration.
Universal Plug and Play makes it easy to allow Windows to automatically configure this home wireless router to support internet applications for videoconferencing and gaming. A Wi-Fi Protected Setup button simplifies the process of adding and configuring client devices.
If it becomes necessary to restore the factory default settings for any reason, there are two methods. One way is to use the browser-based utility to restore the factory defaults from the Administration tab. Another way is to press and hold the reset button for five seconds.
The router has four rubber feet on the bottom for horizontal placement. If it is more convenient for you to mount it on a wall, the bottom panel also has wall-mount slots.
Help and Support
Cisco covers the Linksys E1200 with a one-year warranty plus one year of free technical support by telephone or online chat.
The website hosts a community forum, knowledge base, product guide and frequently asked questions.
Belkin also makes good use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to communicate with users.
The Linksys E1200 ranks above the other products on our lineup because it has a hack-proof firewall and provides complex technology and capabilities at an affordable price. We heartily recommend the Linksys E1200 as the best home wireless router.