Full Reviews on Cisco RV180W Wireless-N Multifunction Router
Pros: Easy to set up. Detailed management interface. IPv6 ready. Supports VLANs. Gigabit Ethernet.
Cons: Sluggish interface. Web filtering rules are too basic. Can't tell when VPN users are connected. Confusing VPN setup.
Bottom Line: The Cisco RV180W Wireless-N Multifunction Router offers security-conscious small businesses an all-in-one box to set up VPN access for remote employees, basic routing, wireless, and firewall. It's also future-proof, supporting IPv6 by default.
The Cisco RV180W Wireless-N Multifunction Router ($246 MSRP) makes it easy to set up a firewall, a VPN server, a router, and a wireless network with a single, compact box. The company also offers the RV180 ($182), with all the same features minus the wireless network. The RV180W addresses a lot of the things that were missing in the Cisco RV110W Wireless-N VPN Firewall, such as increasing the number of VPN users supported and adding Gigabit Ethernet ports.
The RV180W aims to offer security, remote access and simple configuration. Even though Cisco is marketing this dual-band wireless router as a small business product, it is comparable to some of the higher-end consumer routers tested recently, such as theNetgear N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router WNDR4500 and AirStation Nfiniti High PowerGiga Wireless-N Router & Access Point from Buffalo Technology. Pricewise, the RV180W is comparable to Netgear's N900, although it has more features in common with Buffalo's AirStation line of routers.
The Cisco RV180W has one WAN port for Internet connectivity and four Gigabit LAN ports in the back. There are two external antennas on the back for wireless networking. Square and compact, it measures 1.18” x 5.91” x 5.91” (HWD) and weighs a mere 0.61 lbs.
The glossy front panel has indicator lights for power, wireless activity, Internet connectivity, and for each of the four LAN ports. The front panel also has an AP indicator that lights up steady green when the router is being used as an access point. The Bridge indicator is green when it is acting as a bridge.
The back panel has a power button, a reset button to reboot the router or to restore factory settings, and a port to plug in the AC power cable. Unlike the previous RV110W, the four LAN ports on the back of the RV180W support Gigabit Ethernet. While Gigabit Ethernet is not yet a must-have on most business routers, the increasing number of applications, file-sharing, and video streaming within the office make it a should-have.
Like the earlier RV110W, the R180W would be attractive to many businesses because of its built-in VPN server. Considering how expensive and time-consuming it can be to deploy a VPN server for remote workers to connect and access office printers, databases, and applications, a router with built-in VPN is a bargain. The RV180W supports both the widely-supported PPTP and QuickVPN protocols and allows up to 10 VPN connections at time. This is an improvement over the RV110W, which supported only five users at a time.
Cisco upgraded the RV180W to broadcast on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz-band and included WDS bridging/repeating and WEP/WPA/WPA2 consumer and Enterprise wireless security. The router can also be configured to broadcast on four VLAN-based SSIDs. Businesses would appreciate the various options available for setting up the wireless network.
The well-organized Web interface is chock-full of firewall and routing options, including port forwarding, firewall access rules, quality of service, and creating VPN user accounts.
The RV180W supports IPv6 out of the box, making it a sound investment for any business planning to upgrade their networks to adopt the newer Internet address standard down the road. Businesses should pay careful attention to make sure new equipment have IPv6 support, or the eventual transition is going to be really painful.
Cisco Quick Start
Setting up the RV180W was a snap, as I followed the enclosed printed Quick Start Guide to connect the router to the computer and to the network. When I opened up the Web interface with the default IP address and login credentials, the Setup Wizard launched automatically. The entire process took less than 10 minutes, and included setting up security on the wireless network, changing the password for the default account, configuring the router's WAN gateway settings, and testing to make sure I had Internet connectivity. Plenty of on-screen tips and explanations were available at every step.
I also had the option to configure the router to broadcast a different MAC address. Many ISPs secure customer connections by locking the IP address to a specific hardware MAC address to prevent someone from swapping routers or firewalls without the administrator's knowledge. The RV180W can broadcast the MAC address of the computer being used to run the Setup Wizard, or an entirely different address (such as the previous router being replaced).
I appreciated the Setup Wizard's focus on security. The interface warned me when I selected a password that wasn't strong enough and defaulted to a secure wireless setup by default. When I tried to set up an open wireless network, the wizard displayed several warnings.
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