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Wireless Reviews

Setup

Unlike many wireless routers/hotspots, there's really not too much to talk about for setup on the Cisco Valet.  When you flip open the box top, the inside of the lid contains "Your key to simple setup" - i.e., a USB key with the Cisco Connect software.  Cisco has distilled the installation of the Valet to three simple steps, listed on the inside lid of the package below the key:

1.  Insert the Easy Setup Key into a USB port on your computer

2.  Click Connect to your Cisco Valet.

3.  Follow the on-screen instructions to install your Cisco Valet.

Call me a cynic, but I really didn't expect setup to be as easy as this makes it seem.  However, the next few screen shots will show you just how simple it is.

When you insert the key, depending on your system configuration, the Cisco Connect software may run automatically, or you may have to click on an icon to start it.  On the Mac, the package is mounted on your desktop, and you just have to open the installer drive and click on the icon.

The first time you insert the USB key, it installs a small program, Cisco Connect, onto your computer.  Out of the box, the software assumes that haven't installed the Valet. So the initial screen (Figure 4) prompts you to connect the Valet to power and your Internet connection.  Should you need more detailed information, a click on "Show me how" provides additional assistance.

Connect Wizard start

Figure 4: Connect Wizard start

When you click on Next, the screen shown in Figure 5 tells you to be patient while your computer is connected to the Valet.  Though the screen warns that it could take up to five minutes, in reality, it took much less time. You do get a spinning wheel so that you don't think the program has quit on you. But there are no progress indicators or status messages to let you know how things are moving along.

Connection in progress

Figure 5: Connection in progress

In just a few moments, you get a reassuring "Congratulations" screen (Figure 6) showing that setup is complete.

Setup done

Figure 6: Setup done

During this initial setup process, all of the "heavy lifting" was done completely in the background, with no decisions or interaction needed.  The installed Cisco Connect program provides a very simple four panel interface (Figure 7)  This is certainly not intimidating to even the least technically savvy.

Main menu

Figure 7: Main menu

During the setup process, Cisco Connect creates a "safe" name for your hotspot.  From my observations, it looks like they combine an adjective and a noun.  My first test yielded the name "TinyMoose".  The second time, it generated the name "ShortCedar". 

Setup also configured WPA wireless security with a pre-shared key and set a secure password to protect access to the hotspot.  In fact, the Wi-Fi PSK is the same as the device password.  This is a huge improvement over other router configurations that don't force you to change the admin password, don't set up wireless security, or worse, don't do either.  At the end of setup, you have a secured "hotspot" protected by a secure password.  No more default "Admin/Password" as found on some other devices.  All of the configuration data is stored on the "Easy Setup" USB key to facilitate setup and installation on other computers.

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