The Cisco Valet is specifically intended for rookie users and the nontech-savvy, and everything about the Valet -- including its marketing as a wireless hotspot -- is designed to be nonthreatening. The Cisco Valet is advertised as the simplest router to use, and reviewers say it lives up to its promise. It's a wireless router for those who want to establish a wireless network at a low price and with minimal effort and knowledge.
Designed for novice network users. What the Cisco Valet lacks in power it more than makes up for in style and ease of use. Professional reviewers and users alike praise its Easy Setup Key. Just plug this 1 GB USB stick into your computer, and three mouse clicks later, you're connected to the Valet.
Its packaging appears to be designed to appeal to the computer rookie, with bullet points highlighting the Valet's features and no mention of the intimidating jargon -- such as speed, range and bandwidth -- usually associated with routers.
Cisco used designers who had previously worked on the simple and well-liked Flip Camcorder, and reviewers praise the simplicity of the router's installation using a USB setup key. Craig Ellison of SmallNetBuilder.com says the Valet has the "smoothest and simplest setup" of any router he has tested. Users posting reviews at Amazon.com agree; most found setup to be as easy as advertised. David Pogue of The New York Times loved the setup process but says the supporting documentation is full of jargon.
Adequate single-band functioning. The Cisco Valet operates in only the 2.4 GHz band at 300 Mbps, which means users may experience signal interference from other devices that use this band, such as garage door openers. There's no USB port, but the Valet does have 4 Ethernet LAN ports. In tests at SmallNetBuilder.com, a highly technical computer review site, the unit's speed was slower than most other wireless routers, and throughput dropped to barely usable in some locations. Despite this, Tim Higgins says the Valet provides adequate coverage for most homes for browsing and email.
Basic features with no bells and whistles. The Cisco valet basic single-band wireless router has none of the bells and whistles of more expensive and more complex routers. The Valet has 4 Ethernet LAN ports -- not GbE ports -- but no USB ports. This limits the connections you can make to the router.
Its features include parental controls and guest networking. Parents can block specific domains and set time limits for their children's Internet access, and Katherine Boehret of The Wall Street Journal finds the Valet's controls especially easy to use. The guest network has built-in password protection.
1. Small Net Builder.com
Review Credibility: Very Good Craig Ellison says the Cisco Valet has the "smoothest and simplest setup of any router" he has tested. Although the Valet doesn't break any speed records, it excels in its intended use as a starter router for the novice user.
Review: Cisco Valet M10 Wireless HotSpot Reviewed, Craig Ellison, April 12, 2010
Review Credibility: Good The Cisco Valet receives a Silver Award in this site's roundup of the best wireless routers of 2013. It gets high marks for its features, security, ease of use and support; however, performance isn't rated. Editors say the Valet is geared toward novice and nontechie home users, and it lacks some of the features found in more expensive routers.
Review: Cisco Valet M10, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, As of January 2013
Review Credibility: Good More than 550 users posting at Amazon.com give the Cisco Valet an overall rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars. While many find the Valet to be as easy to set up and use as advertised, a few owners had problems with the configuration. Cisco's customer service also receives some criticism.
Review: Cisco-Valet Wireless Router, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of January 2013
4. The Wall Street Journal
Review Credibility: Good Katherine Boehret positions the Cisco Valet as a router for people who are "tired of being intimidated by a blinking box." She likes its simple setup but had some difficulty hooking it up to a Mac, a bug that Cisco has fixed. She also appreciates how easy it is to use the parental controls.
Review: Feeling at Home With a Router, Katherine Boehret, March 30, 2010