Linksys E1200 Review 2015
With a MSRP of $60 and actual retail prices in the general vicinity of $40, the Linksys E1200 is certainly affordable.
At this position in the market, you can forgive things that you can’t necessarily with more expensive routers; simply put, there’s less to lose. Still, even if it’s easier to replace a bad router, it’s better if you don’t have to.
Cisco isn’t promising a top-notch product with the E1200, but there are standards to hold even a relatively basic router like this one to.
It needs to perform to a reasonable standard, and it needs to do so consistently; a low-end router isn’t a license to foist garbage on your customers. How does this unit stack up?
Linksys E1200: Hardware
The E1200 is definitely basic. While it’s still an 802.11n machine, it’s a single-band model that only functions on the 2.4GHz band. Accordingly, the speed boost isn’t going to be nearly as dramatic a leap over 802.11g connections.
As a matter of fact, the Linksys E1200 wireless connection is a bit on the slow side, even for a low-end model; under real-world conditions, you can generally expect just about 30Mbps to 40Mbps.
This drops sharply with range; at 100 feet, you won’t even really have the throughput for streaming video.
It’s suitable for sharing an Internet connection over the space of a small home, but you’re not going to get good results for any real local networking tasks.
This is a simple router for simple use cases.
Wired networking is in a similar boat thanks to the fact that the four Ethernet ports max out at 100Mbps; you’re not going to have an easy time shuffling files around between machines on your network.
As modest as performance is, it’s definitely solid.
The E1200 runs cool and quiet, and it can take heavy traffic without making a fuss. It’s not hard to go weeks between reboots, assuming you don’t need to change any settings.
It’s a workhorse; it’s not fast and it’s not showy, but it’s economical and it gets the job done. That isn’t a bad thing, by any means.
Linksys E1200: Software
Linksys E1200 may be a budget offering, but it’s still a part of the Linksys E series. Beyond the aesthetic similarities, they all share much the same user interface.
This is a good thing; Cisco has developed a set of tools that make managing a network incredibly easy. On the higher-end routers, there can be some room for annoyance at the slightly limited feature set, but the simplicity is only a good thing for this particular model.
The E1200 isn’t being sold to people that are already familiar with the ins and outs of running a wireless network; they’re going to be looking for specific features that a machine this basic won’t have.
Entry-level routers like this are intended, overwhelmingly, for people that only need the most basic functionality, and a pared-back interface like the E1200’s is perfect for that market.
The Cisco Connect software works just as well on the E1200 as it does on the E2500 or one of the other models in the series.
As a matter of fact, it may work better, since there’s not such a discrepancy between what Cisco Connect supports and the features available in the browser-based interface.
The Windows-based applications comes on a CD included with the router, or you can download it from the Linksys website; either way, it’s an incredibly simple, automated way to handle basic network setup and maintenance tasks.
Initial configuration is pretty much automatic using Cisco Connect.
The traditional control panel isn’t nearly that simple, but it’s still a very accessible take on things; you can manage features which aren’t available through Cisco Connect, like guest networking, through a very simple graphical interface.
The Linksys E1200 is a good product by a few very important metrics, and a mediocre one by most others. It has its place, absolutely; it’s affordable, reliable, and easy to use.
Those count for a lot; the E1200 has an invaluable niche, and it serves entry-level users very well. Still, it doesn’t have many features outside of the core elements of the Wi-Fi specification, and performance is somewhat lacking.
This is a good product, but it’s not for everyone; it’s a wireless router for people without much technical knowledge at all. If you don’t fit that description, you’re going to be displeased.