Black is back this year as Belkin's sleek trademark design has already been adopted by Netgear and now Linksys with its WRT110 wireless router. This sliver of plastic looks reasonably good value, too, as it delivers a decent range of features for under fifty quid. However, note that at this low price you won't get Gigabit Ethernet and neither do you get wireless-N. The WRT110 is touted by Linksys as a wireless-G router but claims it can work with wireless-N clients and can also deliver similar speeds.
The WRT110 is MIMO enabled but Linksys has done away with external aerials. You only get two but these are inside the chassis where they won't mar its sleek lines. At the rear you have a standard four-port Fast Ethernet switch and an RJ-45 WAN port for connecting suitably equipped cable and ADSL modems. No USB ports are provided so you can't attach printers for sharing or use the Windows Connect Now wireless setup feature but you do get a button on the front panel which is used for initiating WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) sessions with suitably equipped wireless clients. Well, that's the plan but the review unit had a reserved sticker over it for future use.
Installation is handled smoothly by a CD-ROM based utility which helps out with cabling conundrums and then goes through a quick start wizard to get the router up and running. Linksys gets extra brownie points for insisting that you change the default administrative password and set up wireless encryption with a suitably complex passphrase. A new feature is Linksys' LELA (Linksys EasyLink Advisor) v3.0 which provides a smart interface for viewing and managing all network devices attached to the router. It opens with a full network map showing the router, each connected system and whether Internet access is currently available.
Selecting a device pops up a window with details about it such as the connection speed, its IP address and the installed operating system. For the latter, LELA was very accurate with it correctly identifying Windows Server 2003, Vista Ultimate and XP Professional on our test systems. Selecting the router allows you to change its administrative password and encryption key and if an unidentified system appears in the map you can flag it as an intruder where it will be highlighted in red. However, this action doesn't do anything else so you can't use LELA to actually block an intruder from accessing your network.
LELA tries to make the best of the situation but it got us on our knees a few times. When testing with Windows Vista and Server 2008 systems it would occasionally crash, it couldn't report the network connection speed on the systems that didn't have LELA installed, and the link for the help files on Linksys' support site didn't work so we were unable to retrieve a user guide for it. Furthermore, when we attempted to access the router's advanced settings from LELA all we received was a pile of HTML source code.