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Wireless Reviews


The EA9200's has Linksys' standard "Smart Wi-Fi" feature set. Part 1 of the EA6500 review provides a good Smart Wi-Fi feature summary. (The SimpleTap setup feature on the EA6500 is no longer supported.)

Signing up for a Smart Wi-Fi account is completely optional. You have access to all router admin features via a "local access" link in the login screen. You only need to register for a Smart Wi-Fi account if you want to access the router remotely using the Smart Wi-Fi iOS or Android apps or use some (all?) of the small set of third-party apps that Linksys has had since Smart Wi-Fi was introduced.

The main dashboard shown below is the same as found on other Smart Wi-Fi routers.

Smart Wi-Fi Dashboard

Smart Wi-Fi Dashboard

The Network Map continues to evolve. It no longer has an option to show Internet Usage and filters have been moved to a dropdown menu. The latter helps declutter the Map. Compare the EA9200's map...

EA9200 Network Map

EA9200 Network Map

to the WRT1900AC's.

WRT1900AC Network Map

WRT1900AC Network Map

While checking out the Smart Connect feature (more later) I found the Network Map still has its quirks. It thought an iPad was connected via Ethernet for awhile and clicking the refresh icon didn't seem as reliable as clicking the Network Map icon when checking to see which 5 GHz radio devices were connected to.

The WRT1900AC review contains an accurate summary of the EA9200's features and also its shortcomings. Once again the most glaring omission is outbound service blocking, something you get in even basic cheapie routers. Instead, the Parental Controls control scheduled per-device access to all internet services. In short, Linksys continues to lag behind ASUS, NETGEAR, TP-LINK and others in its (not so) Smart Wi-Fi routers.

For wireless features, the biggest change comes from having to handle two 5 GHz radios. By default, the router comes up with the two in "band steering" mode. Note in this mode you can't control channel selection, channel width or "network mode", i.e. N only, G only, etc.

Each 5 GHz radio is limited to a subset of channels. 5GHz-1 supports only channels 36, 40, 44 and 48 and 5GHz-2 supports only channels 149, 153, 157 and 161. This is due to the filtering and other design tweaks required to keep the two radios from overloading each other.

Wireless Settings- band steering enabled

Wireless Settings- band steering enabled

Turning band steering off changes the screen, provides controls for each 5 GHz radio and enables channel selection, channel width and "network mode" (Mixed, 802.11n only, 802.11ac only for 5 GHz, Mixed, 802.11n only, 802.11g only for 2.4 GHz).

Wireless Settings- band steering enabled

Wireless Settings- band steering off

Wireless features remain on the thin side compared to some other high-end routers. There is no transmit power adjust, no timed wireless radio scheduling and you can't set maximum link rates. There are also no beamforming or airtime fairness enables. Like the NETGEAR R8000, the EA9200 doesn't have wireless bridge or wireless repeating modes.

On a more positive note, it looks like wireless guest networks are finally supported on both bands and you get a physical wireless on/off switch. You can also manually shut off each radio in the GUI and MAC filters can be set to allow or deny the devices in the list. But you'll need to check the Troubleshooting > Status page to get the MAC addresses of devices you want to control since there is no pick list presented. Both "Home" and "Enterprise" (RADIUS) wireless security are supported.

On another positive note, it looks like Linksys has enabled more of the "Smart Connect" features that Broadcom built into its XStream technology. More on that when we test band steering performance,.

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