Linksys may not have been first in Australia with an 802.11ac router, but the Belkin-owned company now has something ready. So is it any good?
The first router from Linksys since the company was acquired by Belkin, the EA6900 is also the first 802.11ac router we’ve seen from Linksys since the company first promised them when they were still owned by Cisco.
Fast forward several months and here we are with a router that not only boasts some of those uber-high wireless AC speeds, but also Gigabit Ethernet ports, an easy to use and view interface, and three external antennas designed to make performance matter.
Design-wise, Linksys won’t really win any awards here from us, as it hasn’t changed much from the routers we were seeing from the company before Belkin brought the brand out.
They still appear flat and yet slightly ovular, though there’s a softened and raised semi-circle bump on the top, which means you can’t easily put anything on top, for fear that it’ll topple over when the flat surface connects with the raised middle. Small things like hard drive can be placed on the flat ends, mind you, but that’s about it.
It’s not space-friendly design, that’s for sure, unless you plan on mounting it to your wall, which is one thing this model supports.
Linksys has also included something else that interferes with space slightly, and that’s a set of external antennas, and while Netgear, D-Link, and Apple seem to be about pushing their antennas inside the design lately, Linksys is expanding out even more, including three external antennas taking advantage of “dipole” technology.
We had to do our research on this one, and honestly, we really wish Linksys would include some documentation or an online guide about how to make these work better in your home, because it’s all well and good including a neat technology designed to expand the performance of your WiFi antennas, but not telling anyone how to place them can create one frustrating experience.
Dipole antennas are used in lots of places, though, including in the traditional rabbit ear antennas used in TVs, but here in the Linksys router, we would have loved some guidance for getting optimal reception.
Credit does go to Linksys for the interface, though, because while router interfaces are normally a pretty mundane usability experience, with low-end looks, lots of form fields, and a big ol’ clunky save button or two, Linksys has made the EA6900 adopt its cloud interface design, which gives everything a nice blue background, big easy to read fonts, and some hints about what things do that make everything seem easy.
Except the antenna positioning. That seems to be a do it yourself and experiment thing.
Regardless, this browser-based interface can also be linked up with a Linksys account, and then controlled not just while you’re not at home, but also through your smartphone or tablet, which means you can see who is on your network while you’re working late, and kick them off accordingly if they should now be in bed.