04 Dec 2005, 21:00

Router Troubles

A couple weeks ago I noticed one evening that our internet connection was getting a little flaky and then the following morning it was totally out. At first I assumed it was our ISP’s fault but a quick look at our router, an early model Linksys WRT54G (about 3 years old), proved otherwise. Its diagnostic light was on and all the other lights were flashing on and off together, and it wouldn’t respond to resetting the hardware. Really this was probably my fault. I’d been running a third-party firmware for quite a while and using that to boost its signal power beyond the intended level, which made it run a little hot. I wouldn’t be suprised at all if that’s what lead to its demise. I was still otherwise pretty happy with the router other than that and I figured I’d get another one. After a quick trip to Best Buy to get a replacement I thought I had lucked out. They 2 rebates on the WRT54G, plus they were giving out a $10 gift card with the router. Not a bad deal it seemed, and hey, I figured that since the model had been out for a few years the current version would probably have some improvements on the older incarnation. Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong. I just happened to stumble across some information about how while the first 4 versions of this were a really good product the 5th version has taken a turn for the craptastic. This just happens to be the version that I just got. Apparently, in version 5 the system memory was cut in half and its reliable Linux firmware was replaced with a proprietary firmware that may be somewhat buggy currently. While I haven’t run into any major problems with it, the biggest thing is that it can no longer run 3rd party firmware. The biggest problem I have with all of this is that they made these substantial changes (downgrades really) and there’s no way to tell what you’re actually buying. The model number is the same, it doesn’t list any of those internal specs on the box and for all I knew I thought I was getting the same powerful, open router that I had before. While I know that none of these things probably make a difference to the vast majority of people that buy this product, it still seems shady to make those kind of changes without any indication. Linksys has made the older version available again as the WRT54GL (L for Linux) but unfortunately before I knew about any of this I’d already cut the UPC out of the box my new router came in to get the rebate so it’s too late to return it.


Comment by Neal on 2005-12-05 09:59:30 +0000

Rebates are evil!