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Linksys WRT1200AC Router & RE6700 Extender Review

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WRT1200AC Router Interface

Since this is a WRT-based router it came as little surprise to see that its interface was almost the exact same as the WRT1900’s. This isn’t a bad thing since the UI is laid out in an extremely logical and intuitive manner and almost no features have been hidden where you’ll have to search for them. At worst you will have to click on one menu level, and then change a tab, as the default tab for a given sub-menu may not deal with what you are looking for.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of some advanced features. Obviously, Linksys feels that advanced users will install a 3rd party firmware package and be done with it. This UI is meant for average Joes so why bother confusing things with features that could cause their network to stop functioning properly? We can see their point of view on this, but considering installing other firmware will void the warranty, some advanced features should have still been included.

On the positive side, the single main landing page covers nearly everything you could need to accomplish. This area has been broken into two sections and a long contextual menu running along the left hand side, with the lion’s share of space given over to whatever section you are in. The default Main section consists of ‘widgets’ that not only offer a brief overview of the router and its current configuration but grant the ability to ignore the left side menu and simply click on whatever function you want to control.

If for whatever reason these barebones widgets don’t give you enough customizability (or simply don’t offer a feature you need to configure) the left menu will then come into play.

Here, the topmost option is the Network Map section which allows users to quickly and easily add a new device to the network. More importantly there are four main wizard icons that will quickly guide anyone through configuring a given type of device. For example, if you want to activate WPS the WPS icon can be selected. Conversely, if a network based printer needs to be configured you would also come to this section and select USB Printer.

These four main wizards should cover off most devices and scenarios but by lumping a whole host of devices under ‘Other’, the ability of this UI to reduce configuration time is severely curtailed. There is no full-on manual option that would have been a better fit for more advanced users either.

The next section is aptly named Guest Access and as the name suggests this is where you would configure short term, and/or limited access networks separate from your main 2.4 and 5.0GHz networks. While very limited in its abilities compared to ASUS’ top of the line routers, the list of abilities should prove to be more than adequate for most consumers’ needs.

The Parental Control tab is a fairly basic implementation of basic firewall designs. If you want to block internet access on a few sites, or complete Internet access during specific periods of time this tab is where you will want to come. Once again, this is barebones and not meant to appeal to advanced users who want to fine-tune configuration options.

The Media Prioritization page is Linksys’ way of implementing Quality of Service (QoS). As such if you absolutely need a certain application or game to not suffer lag on a congested network this is where you would come. While there are a few applications listed in the drop down menus, more can easily be added through manually input. Unfortunately, there is no way to get true fine-grain control over multiple apps/games running on a given computer. You’ll need to upgrade to a higher end router for that.

The configuration used here means you will have to be very careful in how things are ordered in the Media Prioritization list. This is one area Linksys really needs to work on as it is fairly clunky in its existing configuration.

As the name implies the Speed Test ‘section’ tests your ISP speed. However, it is not a section per se and rather simply opens up a webpage and uses a freely available speed test.

The External Storage section is fairly self-explanatory in that this is where you can configure any storage devices connected to the router. In a nutshell it can turn the WRT1900AC into a basic NAS, FTP, or basic media server. However, once again the options are fairly basic and while you can get decent control over any USB device attached to the router it does fall short of what ASUS and even D-Link have to offer.

The oddly named Connectivity section contains basic router options, administration options, LAN details, and even Internet connection settings. Linksys has all the basics more than adequately covered. Of course, if you are interested in a heavy-duty DHCP options then this firmware will leave you wanting even more, though thankfully it at least includes basic dynamic and static IP configurations. This section also features one of the easier to use firmware update tools, which takes the pain out of this otherwise tedious exercise.

In keeping with its more beginner-user orientation, the WRT1200AC’s troubleshooting section is one of the more fully featured help sections you will find in this price bracket. Not only can you view the logs but you can even export them to another browser window. This in combination with a good set of troubleshooting tools really does make tracking down the occasional gremlin a lot easier.

The Wireless section deals exclusively with configuration and viewing of any wireless network you have created. While not spectacular in its abilities, the included MAC address filtering and WPS options are more than decent and should be more than adequate for nearly

The last section deals with Security and as the name suggests allows you to modify any of the various security related features this router has available. While some of these features do overlap with other sections, being able to quickly view and then modify them all in one location is actually impressive.

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