What is the fastest Wi-Fi technology available today? 802.11n? Wrong. Welcome to the latest/fastest Wi-Fi technology – 802.11ac! (draft). This technology can connect your devices with speeds up to 1300 Mbps. That’s more than what most wired connections can offer. But wait, don’t get excited yet. The 1300 Mbps is just a theoretical value and connection speeds are practically much lesser. Unlike network switches, bandwidth is shared between multiple devices connected with each radio of the wireless router. So, the actual speed/user is going to be much lesser than you expect. Also, there are very few clients (laptops, etc) with 802.11ac radio built into them.
But then, 802.11ac routers are three times faster than the previous gen 802.11n routers. If you buy an 802.l1ac router, it will most probably support all the previous Wi-Fi standards and hence you can use it with your existing wireless devices, whatever be the standard supported by them. Basically, 802.11ac routers come with the latest technology and they are the fastest wireless routers available today. Buying one of them will future-proof your network. Also, if you plan to connect a lot of bandwidth intensive applications (HD video streaming, 3D games, etc) over the Wi-Fi network in a multi-user environment, the speed advancements brought by this router might be very useful.
Introducing the new Cisco Linksys EA6500 Smart Wi-Fi Dual-band AC Router that supports the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard!
Important specifications of the Linksys EA6500 Wireless Router:
- Wi-Fi: 802.11ac(draft)/n/a/b/g; Simultaneous Dual-band operation (2.4 Mhz & 5 Mhz)
- Antennas: 6 (Internal); 3×3 – 2.4 Ghz; 3×3 – 5 Ghz
- Wi-Fi Speeds: 450 Mbps, 1300 Mbps (2.4 Ghz, 5 Ghz)
- Ports: 4 x 10/100/1000 Mbps Wired Ports; 2 x USB Ports; Virtual USB
- Dimensions/Weight: 2.6″ x 12.6″ x 9.4″ / 2.2 Pounds
- DLNA certified media server
- Single Tap for adding Wi-Fi devices & NFC devices on the network
- IPv6 Support
- Warranty: 1-Year
- Included: Ethernet cable, power cord, simple tap card, CD-ROM (Set-up)
- Supported OS: Windows & Mac
- Cisco Cloud Connect
A short video on Cisco Cloud Connect:
- Provides good performance and increased range for HD videos, games and other multimedia rich real-time applications
- Allows one to connect multiple devices over the Wi-Fi network without worrying much about speed/performance
- EA6500 is future proof. Since 802.11ac has just been introduced, you can expect the standard to be around for another five years (at least)
- If you have an 802.11ac client, the speeds your Wi-Fi device could achieve could be as much as three times the fastest Wi-Fi ‘n’ based devices
- Two USB ports can be used to connect a centralized storage device (like external hard-drive)/centralized printer that can be accessed by all the users of the Wi-Fi/Network
- It supports a single-tap based adding of new Wi-Fi/NFC based devices on the network
- The Linksys EA6500 supports Quality of Service (QoS). With this feature, users can give priority to certain types of traffic (for example, video) over other types of traffic (data), if they wish
- One can access router settings from anywhere (over the Internet) using mobile apps/browser
- One can provide guest Internet access for guests (without access to internal network) from anywhere
- Using the Cisco Cloud Connect, one can set parental controls to restrict the kind of content that can be accessed by kids over the Internet. There are three levels. Level 1 = Prevent Malware, Phishing, Scam sites (Must); Level 2 – Level 1 + Prevent Pornography sites (Recommended); Level 3 = Level 1 + 2 + Prevent Non-family friendly sites
- Four Gigabit wired Ports to create and connect certain high-performance devices/non Wi-Fi devices to a high-speed wired network
- The blinking lights on the router can be disabled if it is distracting to the eyes during the night
Limitations of Cisco Linksys EA6500 Wireless AC Router:
- 802.11ac high-speed client adapters may not (yet) be widely available on laptops, etc
- 802.11ac is in draft stage. The protocol is yet to be finalized but a common set of features (including speed) will work on draft-compliant devices. But it allows future technology upgrades to be done via software
- This point is applicable for any Wi-Fi device: Wi-Fi performance depends on range, coverage area, physical obstructions, distance from the router/access point, number of users/devices connecting to it, volume of traffic on the network, Wi-Fi technology supported by clients, wireless interference, etc
- One needs Internet access to install it for first time. After that, cloud connect is optional and users can opt out of it if they don’t want the same
- There is no option for connecting external antenna (to increase the range)
- Users may find it slightly difficult to install it for the first time, but after that it can pretty much be forgotten
- You need a laptop/PC or other Wi-Fi devices that can connect to this router over the Wi-Fi network (preferably with an 802.11ac/n adapter to get high-speeds)
- You need a separate modem (ADSL/Cable) and Internet connection
- You need a PC/Mac to configure it for the first time
- You can connect up to four network devices using the gigabit wired Ethernet port (RJ-45) to this router
- Optimization: Generally, the set-up happens smoothly. If you are facing any problems (like frequent disconnections or interference), please try the following optimization techniques: 1. Turn off one radio (5 Ghz) if none of the network devices are using it. 2. Manually set the channel of the 2.4 Ghz radio to one of the non-overlapping channels – 1, 6 or 11. 3. Set up the bandwidth to 20 Mhz instead of 20/40 Mhz. 4. Change the wireless security level to WPA2 personal and AES encryption (This offers slightly less security but the performance becomes better). 5. Radio broadcast can be set up for both 802.11g/n compatibility.
1. Netgear A6200 802.11ac WiFi USB Adapter – Yes, there is an USB-based 802.11ac high-speed client adapter that you can fix to your laptop/computer, etc. and connect to the EA6500 over the latest 802.11ac network.
2. Linksys Wireless-AC Universal Media Connector (WUMC710) – The WUMC710 is like a network extender for the EA6500 router. The best thing about this device is, it connects to the EA6500 using the high-speed 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. Hence, you can expect a high-speed backbone n/w connectivity between both of them. You can use the WUMC710 in situations where you have the router (EA6500) in the third floor and want to connect a few devices to the Wi-Fi network on the first floor.
Alternative Routers to consider: Cisco Linksys EA4500 Dual-band Wireless ‘n’ Router
This router is similar to the EA6500 except that it doesn’t support the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology. Hence the cost of the router is also lesser.
Where to buy: If you live in the United States, you can buy the Cisco Linksys EA6500 AC Router from Amazon.
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