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Cisco Valet

Apr 8, 2010 12:00 PM, By Dan Ochiva

Simple Wi-Fi router for home office/studio setups.

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Cisco Valet

Adds one internal antenna to boost signal strength. Price: $100; $150 (Valet Plus, including a second, added antenna for wider coverage)

For all of us working out of our homes, working with networking technologies such as routers often turns out to be more complex than imagined. If you've ever suffered through the arcane setup routines that even so-called consumer routers offer, you'll be open to new approaches.

This is just the scenario that Cisco had in mind when it devised its Valet Wi-Fi router. Again, we're not talking about a heavy-duty production networking setup, but simply something that will let you work at home with multiple computers without being an IT guy.

Cisco, a major supplier of routers that move huge amounts of Internet traffic, also wants a piece of smaller, consumer markets for its products. One example: It bought the company that developed the very simple-to-use Flip pocket videocamera a year ago, as the company sees more and more consumers will want to put video over the Internet in the future.

Previous versions of the Valet router had high return rates, mainly because setup instructions were just too confusing, according to the company.

To get around that, the Valet starts with a simple USB key install—no CD, since the USB will also automatically record the user's particular parameters to the key, instead of relying on them copying and inserting that code in the right place.

When the USB key is plugged in, Cisco Connect software pops up and installation is handled by simply clicking the setup button. After the power cord is plugged in and an Ethernet cable connected to a broadband modem, the setup software does all the rest, automatically determining the configuration and settings

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