Holiday Buyer's Guide 2005

Linksys Wireless Router

Our other choice is Linksys' Wireless G Broadband Router with SRX200. Linksys' adaptation of "MIMO" - though they avoid using such nomenclature - arrives in the form of its SRX series of routers and adapters. SRX stands for "Speed and Range eXpansion," hinting at enhanced capability on these WiFi routers.

This appliance is really three devices in one: a radio, for transmission and reception of RF or WiFi signals; a 4-port switch, providing the basic hardware component needed to build a local wireless network; and a router, for tying together all the necessary pieces that make up a WLAN, and allowing them to share a single Internet link. By overlaying signals from two 802.11g radios, double data rates are achieved, yielding higher performance than standard 802.11g devices. This doubled up wireless signal is also more robust, and therefore travels farther. The two-channel configuration even allows the SRX200 to use reflections, normally considered a source of interference, to extend its usable range.

Linksys' SRX line has undergone a few transformations already. For example, version 1 sported a fixed three-antenna configuration; version 2 provided the same configuration, but with three removable antennas. In the latest version, SRX200, Linksys opted for a fixed two antenna design. Although these antennas are not field upgradeable, one goal driving SRX technology is to do away with such hacks.

The SRX200 brings to the table a few new techniques previously unavailable to MIMO routers: industrial-grade WPA2 encryption protocols. What this does for the home consumer is to provide greater encryption key strength implemented using either pre-shared keys (PSK) or 802.1x authentication. At the enterprise level, WPA2 supports back-end authentication through a RADIUS server, where the router itself acts as a client and accepts only connection attempts that the authentication server authorizes.

As is usual for modern routers, the SRX200 acts as a DHCP server, dishing up IP addresses to its clients. It also has a powerful stateful packet inspection firewall to maintain network integrity against potential network-based attacks. Best of all, it's conveniently managed through a browser-based configuration utility, making daily operation and maintenance of the SRX200 effortless and easy.

With an MSRP of $129, the SRX200 is competitive with other manufacturers' products bearing similar capabilities. When properly mated with its companion notebook adapter - the WPC54GX (MSRP $179) - the performance capability rivals that of the Belkin. One might find that the only deciding factor one can easily use is that Belkin offers a lifetime warranty on their product, whereas Linksys only offers a 3-year.

Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a long-time IT writer, researcher and consultant, and occasional contributor to Tom’s Hardware. A Windows Insider MVP since 2018, he likes to cover OS-related driver, troubleshooting, and security topics.