Linksys WRT1900ac router excels with coverage, speed
The newest router from Linksys looks more like the WRT54G of yesterday than the sleek, antenna-less models popular today.
Published Sunday, April 27, 2014 11:25PM EDT
There are parts of some people's homes that are Wi-Fi dead zones.
Despite the addition of a range extender, or the twisting of their wireless router, nothing can do the trick to get the radio waves through to certain rooms.
For example, I can't seem to get Wi-Fi reception in my bedroom, perhaps due to all the clothing my fiance has in her closet, which perhaps acts as a protective blanket on signals passing through.
If I step outside on the deck, the reception would also drop off like the playoff hopes of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Adding a range extender improved things upstairs, but not outside. Granted, the router is in the basement, but that's where it works out best for various technical requirements.
My problems are not unique.
The latest router from Linksys, however, aims to address these challenges and improve in other areas of home networking needs.
If the "new" WRT1900ac looks familiar, that's because it actually does. The router features a design reminiscent of the classic WRT54G access points many people once had (and might still be using) with blue and black plastic.
Whether you remember those old routers or not, you may have noticed most new ones don't have any physical antennas at all. Well, Linksys is bringing those back as well.
The WRT1900ac sports four physical antennas designed to improve wireless performance. You can twist and direct each of them in different directions, or heck - remove them if they don't make a difference in your situation (ie. apartment, small condo).
But if you value range, keep them on. Never before have I tried a router that can provide such great whole-home range. Not even with the help of a range extender.
This Linksys model supports traditional 802.11 standards a/b/g/n and also the newer ac - the latter of which can pump through data at the rate of 1,300 Mbps with other 802.11ac devices, such as newer smartphones, tablets and laptops. That's almost like having things hardwired.
All you need to know is this: the WRT1900ac is super fast with enough range to boot.
Other physical features of this hefty router include a USB 3.0 port and a combination eSATA/USB port. The USB 3.0 port in particular is helpful to transfer files at bullet train-fast speeds, helpful if you're using this as a media server.
On the back, there are also four LAN ports, which may seem a little limiting if you have a lot of hard-wired connections to hook up to.
The web portal and configuration menus appear to be improved over previous Linksys SmartWifi offerings, but computer enthusiasts may crave something a bit more rich and complex to sink their teeth into.
That being said, something like that is likely in the works - the WRT1900ac will run on open source firmware.
One more things - this router isn't cheap, with a MSRP of $279.99.
For the speed, range and potential for running custom firmware, that price is worth it.