Cisco Linksys WRT160NL review
A good, solid draft-n router with handy NAS and media streaming features and a tempting price. Only the lack of an ADSL version counts against it
Review Date: 27 Aug 2009
Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray
Price when reviewed: £56 (£64 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
There's not much to distinguish between the various flavours of Cisco Linksys routers these days. They all come in the now-familiar flat, flying saucer-style chassis, with activity lights and a WPS button ranged along the front edge and sockets ranged along the rear. The new WRT160NL doesn't break this mould.
What it does boast are a few features beyond the usual wireless router fare, the most interesting of which is Storage Link. On the rear panel, alongside the four Ethernet sockets and WAN port (the router is only available in cable variety), is a downstream USB port. This allows you to hook up a USB hard disk and use the router as a basic NAS drive.
It's not the first time we've seen this facility in a router – our current A List resident, the Belkin N+, can pull off the same trick – but it's a rare enough feature to earn the Linksys a few extra brownie points. It's an excellent option for those who don't want to waste electricity or invest cash on an expensive, dedicated NAS drive, and there are a couple of bonus features too.
You can impose user- and group-based read and write restrictions, and the WRT160NL has a UPnP media server facility, so you can stream media stored on your external hard disk to a connected player or computer.
Another difference comes in the shape of a pair of external aerials, which will please those who are forced to site the router in an awkward location.
Elsewhere, it's a competent rather than spectacular router. The WRT160NL's wireless capability is restricted to single-band 2.4GHz 802.11n draft-2.0, there's no Gigabit Ethernet, and you don't get niceties such as guest access or an on-router display.
Wireless speed is also nothing to write home about. Although we found the router to be generally reliable over a week of testing, in our file-transfer tests the WRT160NL performed significantly slower than the A-Listed Trendnet TEW-633GR (which we tested at the same time to act as a control) and roughly half the speed in our long-range test.
So although the WRT160NL is reasonably priced and boasts a good range of features for the money, we can't recommend it. The Belkin N+ (see A List, p32) remains the better all-round choice, thanks to its faster performance, and its availability as an ADSL router.
Author: Jonathan Bray
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