When I was first discussing a review opportunity with Cisco, I mentioned that I probably wasn’t the best person to try out their new Cisco Valet, which is touting itself as the easiest home wireless setup ever. Since I would already know exactly what I was doing when setting up the router, I couldn’t be a very good job at figuring out how “easy” it was to set up. What I approached Cisco with was a “home wireless makeover” for a local friend of mine so I could see if one of my non-techie friends could figure it out all on their own. They were definitely on board!
I approached my friend Katie, who actually didn’t even have a wireless network in her home at all. Just the thought of that is shocking to me, since I’ve had Wi-Fi for a VERY long time. She is a stay at home mom to 2 small boys (toddler and a preschooler!). She has no idea what she is doing when it comes to technology and computers. She even told me that her husband asked her if she wanted any pointers before I came over so she could at least have a little bit of tech smarts before we got started. She kindly refused, as she knew that this was all part of the experiment.
When she opened the box, she asked me if this was all there was. I told her to tell me if that was all there was. She knew right then that there would be no help coming from me on this setup. Right on the box top it says exactly what the first three steps are, which are plug the Easy Setup USB Key into the computer and click “Connect”. Once she did that the Cisco Connect software told her to plug the router into the wall for power, and then plug the “internet” cord into the “internet” port on the router. After that step was done it told her to plug the cable in from the router to the computer. She thought she had already done this and so we continued.
At first the software couldn’t find the router. So I peeked in the back and noticed that while she had plugged the cord into the router, she forgot to put the other end in the computer. I had her attach that cord to the computer and the software was able to find the router, and before we knew it the router was securely set up and she was connected to the internet! As she was looking at the Cisco Connect software she even said “Oh wow, this thing has Parental Controls?… Cool!”
Our next step was to get their laptop connected to the network. She took the Easy Setup USB Key and plugged it into the laptop. Again she clicked connect from the USB Key. The computer found the network and connected itself to it, and was up and running on the internet literally in seconds.
I checked out the network, and it’s secure. It created a unique SSID (the name you see when you are trying to connect to a nearby network) so that it doesn’t say “Katie’s Network” or something to that effect. It generated a password for the router, so it’s not the standard username: admin, password: password. This way anyone trying to get on her network wouldn’t be able to connect to the router’s administration page without knowing it’s unique password.
So, I’m happy to say that the “Easy Wireless Setup” truly lived up to the hype. This stay at home Mom was able to figure the whole thing out with little to no help from me or her husband! I will be talking more about what a quality router can do for your home network tomorrow in my review of the Linksys E3000 (also made by Cisco).
Cisco was not only kind enough to provide me with a router to give a friend, but they have given me one to give away right here on my blog as well! To enter to win a Cisco Valet, simply leave a comment on this post. As always only one entry is allowed per person. Giveaway will close at 8 PM MST on October 24th. Good LUCK!
*Thank you to my friend Katie who put her technical skills (or lack thereof) on the line to help me with this review.
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