Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router N900 Media Stream (EA4500)



A while back I purchased an Apple Airport Extreme Base Station to serve as our primary router and wireless access point. Though initially impressed, I learned that this expensive device wasn’t capable of fully permitting incoming PPTP VPN connections. In addition, it didn’t provide many configuration options. To work around this problem I purchased an ASUS wireless router and instead used the Airport as a wireless access point.

The final work-around resulted in two network devices where one could have worked just fine (I continued to use the Apple Extreme instead of only the ASUS wireless router because the Apple device offered better wireless range). I wasn’t thrilled with this setup and wireless covered was still lacking so I added a new device to my wishlist for Christmas, which I received.

We’re now using a Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router N900 Media Stream (EA4500). I was impressed with this model beforehand when my in-laws changed their router to one of these and I had a chance to work with it a bit. Since setting up our router I’ve removed the ASUS wireless router and the Apple Airport Extreme Base Station.

There are several features I haven’t used yet such as the ability to connect an external hard drive. The following are a few things I’ve learned about this router since installing it.

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My Airport Extreme Base Station Cost Me Another $45 (Because It Couldn’t Do One Thing)



Before I go into the rant I need to state that overall, the Apple Airport Extreme Base Station is a very good residential router, in most cases. In my experience, it’s very stable and most of the features work very well.

But not all of the features… and this one’s a real pain to work with and could be a deal-breaker for many considering purchasing this device. If you plan to use Microsoft VPN PPTP to connect to a system within your network then I suggest that you do not purchase an AEBS.

The description states that it supports VPN PPTP pass-through. Well, I guess that’s only guaranteed for outgoing connections (not specified) or it’s an incompatibility with Microsoft PPTP connections. It would take too long to describe the various forum posts, support documents, and other resources I’ve combed through trying to figure out how to make this work. I’ve spent countless hours trying to find a work-around but I just can’t make it work.

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Removing DD-WRT from a WRT54GS v.7 Linksys Wireless Router


I just lost two and a half hours of my life trying to restore a Linksys WRT54GS (v.7) from DD-WRT to the official firmware. None of the restore/reset options I tried worked during that time. Despite various attempts the router always returned to the DD-WRT configuration.

Finally, I managed to find a solution by installing the VXWorks-revert firmware (via DD-WRT router database) for this router (available on the DD-WRT site for this router’s downloads). After rebooting and uploading the firmware via TFTP the router fell back to a recovery mode from which I was able to load the official firmware (via Web GUI). Starting with the same method using the official firmware never worked until after installing VXWorks-revert.

Airport Extreme Base Station Initial Impression: Home Run!


Updated 08/03/2011: The Airport Extreme Base Station has a major flaw for anyone planning to use a PPTP VPN connection to access a computer behind the router. I’ve added a new post that details my current view of the AEBS.

I finally had enough of dealing with my router problems and it was time to upgrade to 802.11n, so I purchased the AirPort Extreme this week. It came today and I just hooked it up. So far, I’m very impressed.

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Up Next: Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station


I’m considering purchasing an Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station… My Linksys router has served me well over the years but I’m ready to upgrade to 802.11n support and gain additional features that are more relevant (and reliable) these days.

The thought of replacing my router has occurred several times, especially since, on a few occasions, I’ve come home to discover the firmware settings had reset and my wireless network was wide open. It’s only fair to point out that this probably isn’t a problem with the router itself. I’ve been running DD-WRT on it instead of the factory Linksys firmware.

Lately, I’ve also been thinking about adding network-enabled storage to my setup. The Extreme Base Station has a built-in USB port for that I could attach a USB hard drive to, which would allow me to connect shared storage without having to buy a stand-alone device or leave another computer on. In addition, I’m also attracted to the ability of creating a “guest” wireless network on-the-fly, which would be good for visitors so they don’t have to type in my very long and cryptic wireless key.

Having built-in gigabit ports is also a plus (though it’s also a slight negative that it only has three). Obviously that won’t make a difference when accessing the Web any time soon but it will help with local, high-bandwidth file transfers.

Overall, Amazon customer reviews are very positive and several have also stated that the signal strength is excellent. It just might be good enough to properly cover our home, which means I could remove an AP that is located on the opposite end of the house and thus reduce some unsightly tech clutter.

This is probably a purchase I’ll make very soon, but I need to give it some more thought. At $170 I’m hesitant to drop the cash right now but I think the feature set will win in the long run.

Update 03/17/2011: Due to another failure of the Linksys/DD-WRT setup I went ahead and purchased the AirPort Extreme.