For those who want to upgrade, the Cisco Valet Plus (*Est. $40) delivers on the promise of "a router that anyone can set up" and more. The Cisco Valet Plus is an upgraded version of the Cisco Valet (*Est. $45), and it builds on that model's success as a wireless router for the nontech-savvy and those new to home networking.
Extremely simple setup. Like the Valet, the Valet Plus comes with an Easy Setup key -- a 1 GB USB stick containing the Cisco Connect software shipped with most Cisco routers. CNET's reviewer explains that you plug the stick into a computer, click the mouse three times and you're connected to the router. MaximumPC.com's and Laptop Magazine's reviewers, however, have different installation experiences on both Mac and Windows machines. After speaking to Cisco tech support, they determined that the problem came from trying to replace an existing modem rather than setting up a network from scratch.
Average speed for single-band router. While Dong Ngo of CNET says the throughput of the Valet Plus is faster than most other single-band routers he tested, Dana Wollman of Laptop Magazine finds its range lacking. Ngo is happy with both the speed and range of the Cisco Valet Plus: In his tests, it came in third out of 10 single-band routers. Wollman finds its range to be less than that of comparable routers, but he agrees with the throughput speed rating.
Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports but no USB port. The Cisco Valet Plus has four GbE ports, compared to the Valet's four 10/100 ports, an extra antenna for better wireless coverage and a Wi-Fi protected setup. However, it still lacks a USB port, so you can't hook up a printer or external hard drive to share on your network. Dong Ngo of CNET says the Cisco Valet Plus will change how you think of home networking "in a big way," and he recommends the unit for its sleek design and low price tag.
Review Credibility: Excellent Dong Ngo gives the Cisco Valet Plus 4 out of 5 stars, citing its setup and ease of use as primary attributes. He also likes its range and says it has "decent performance." Although the unit lacks features such as dual-band wireless and has no USB port, Ngo says this router is a great value.
Review: Cisco Valet Plus, Dong Ngo, April 9, 2010
2. Laptop Magazine
Review Credibility: Good In this lengthy review, Dana Wollman says the Cisco Valet Plus' setup isn't foolproof and gives the router 3.5 stars out of 5. After installation, however, she enjoys strong speeds and "neat parental control features," and she likes the ability to set up a separate network for guests.
Review: Cisco Valet Plus (M20) Review, Dana Wollman, April 22, 2010
Review Credibility: Good Michael Brown identifies the Cisco Valet Plus as one of a range of products that e-geeks can recommend to their friends and family as their first wireless router. He finds the speed of the Valet Plus to vary depending on the Wi-Fi adapter he uses.
Review: Cisco Valet Plus Review, Michael Brown, May 5, 2010