Linksys WRT110

Linksys WRT110

802.11n speed for an 802.11g price.

The specification sheet might not say it, but the Linksys WRT110 wireless router can actually deliver speeds that are pretty close to what an 802.11n router can achieve. It’s not actually certified for 802.11n functionality, only 802.11b and 802.11g, but its chip can nevertheless take advantage of 802.11n devices in a typical home network.

From the outside, the WRT110 looks just like the WRT160N, except that it doesn’t have any shine on its wing, nor any vent holes. It has two internal antennas and it’s wall-mountable (you have to supply your own screws). The blue indicator LEDs won’t blind you if you are in the same room as it at night.

The set-up process and the Web interface of the WRT110 are the same as the WRT160N. It’s one of the easiest routers on the market to set up, even if you don’t use the supplied CD-ROM. Simply log in to its Web interface, head over to the set-up tab, select PPPoE from the drop-down list (unless you use a cable service), and enter your login details.

The WRT110 was 100 per cent reliable throughout our test period. We didn’t experience any drop-outs, its DHCP server handed out IP addresses without any qualms, and its wireless signal didn’t fluctuate at all in our test environment.

When testing the router on a Windows network with a laptop equipped with a Linksys WPC300N wireless adapter, we obtained a good range and plenty of speed. It’s not as fast as a thoroughbred 802.11n router, but it supplies much better speed and a much better range than a regular 802.11g router.

From two metres away, the router achieved an average data transfer rate of 5.37 megabytes per second (MBps), while from 10m away it achieved an average rate of 4.47MBps. This is 1.84MBps slower than the WRT160N in the same test. Compared to the 802.11g-based Wireless-G Broadband Router (WRT54G2), it’s 2.14MBps faster! There’s no doubt you’ll get plenty of speed when wirelessly transferring photos and video files across your network, and it also means you’ll get more bandwidth to share across many devices.

While streaming a 1600Kbps, Xvid-encoded video file to our Netgear Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000, the WRT110 could also simultaneously transfer data to our laptop at a rate of 3.21MBps. Of course, the available bandwidth for streaming video files while conducting a file transfer will vary depending on the size of the video file. However, if you want to stream many Xvid- and DivX-encoded videos to multiple computers, this router will oblige. It will also let you stream an HD video, which usually comes in at 1.5-1.8MBps, while still giving you plenty of bandwidth to simultaneously take advantage of a fast ADSL2+ connection.

As for distance, the WRT110 was able to stream the aforementioned Xvid video up to 27m before it started skipping badly. In the same test, the WRT160N reached 30m before skipping, and most 802.11g-based routers we’ve tested start to skip just before reaching 20m. The WRT110’s range is definitely better than your average 802.11g-based router.

The WRT110 will only work in mixed mode, meaning you can’t set it to strictly function as an 802.11n router. This isn’t a problem for this router, and it was able to supply faster speeds to our wireless-n gear, while still playing nice with our 802.11g gear. Wireless security can be set either by using Wi-Fi Protected Setup (there is a button on the router to facilitate this), which will only work with other devices that also support WPS to implement security automatically, or it can be set up manually. If you do it manually, you can select from WEP, WPA or WPA2.

After you’ve made changes to any of your settings, the router will react swiftly and it won’t have to completely restart to implement your changes. Not only that, but its Web interface is very responsive; it doesn’t take more than a second to take you from the wireless setting page to the Applications and Gaming page, for example. Of course, you can also use port forwarding, and there is a QoS feature, which lets you optimise Internet data for specific applications and games or for a specific Ethernet port or MAC address. However, you can’t specify a speed, only select from low, normal, medium and high settings.

What it all boils down to is that the WRT110 is fast, works fine over long distances, and is cheap. If you shop around, you should be able to find it for under $100. It’s definitely worth it if you want an inexpensive router to distribute a fast ADSL2+ connection, or something to stream HD videos with.

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