After the recent not-so-successful rounds of Smart Wi-Fi routers, such as the Linksys EA6700 Linksys decided to look back to the days when it was the best-selling networking vendor to seek inspiration. The company announced at CES 2014 the latest Linksys WRT1900AC Dual Band Wi-Fi Router, which resembles the good old Linksys WRT54G that came out more than a decade ago.
Retro design, powerful hardware
The new router shares the same blue-and-black stackable design as the WRT54G, but it's larger and comes with much more powerful components. In fact it's the most powerful model on the market so far, running a 1.2Ghz ARM-based dual-core processor, 128MB of Flash storage, and, 256MB of DDR3 RAM. The device features four antennas (instead of the three you'll find in other high-end routers) and now includes an eSATA port, in addition to one USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0 port. The idea is now you can host more peripheral devices at a time and have even faster network storage speeds when coupled with an external hard drive.
As a Wi-Fi router, the new router supports the latest standards to offer up to 1,300Mbps on the 5Ghz frequency band and up to 600Mbps on the 2.4Ghz frequency band, which translates into the combined Wi-Fi speed of up to 1,900Mbps. For wired clients, it comes with a standard set of one WAN port and four LAN ports, with all of which supporting gigabit Ethernet.
Modern interface, third-party firmware update
The Linksys WRT1900AC comes with advanced features and a modem Web-interface with a user-friendly Network Map where you can view connected devices in an interactive map. It also supports the Smart Wi-Fi engine that's been used in previous Smart Wi-Fi routers. Smart Wi-Fi is a setup and management software tool that gives users access to their connected devices from a browser or mobile app so they can manage their home network both when at home and on the go. The platform supports any Web browsers, as well as mobile operating system, including iOS and Android.
Following other AC1900 routers, such as the Netgear R7000, the Linksys WRT1900AC supports Open Source/Linux, allowing users to use third-party firmware instead of Linksys' stock firmware, including that from such sources as DD-WRT, Open WRT, and Tomato. Third-party firmware tends to offer more features and customizations to satisfy the need of pro or business users.
The new Linksys WRT1900AC Dual Band Wi-Fi Router is set to be available for purchase in the spring with an estimated cost of $299.99 (expect the street price to be lower). Check back then for our full review.