Typically, whenever someone would mention wireless routers in the home, I would immediately picture a blue box stamped with the name Linksys on it. And if that router came from Cisco, I would indeed be picturing the right one. Not anymore. Cisco today unveiled its own branded line of home network products, called Cisco Valet.
So why the name flip? It’s partially because of the Flip — the consumer-friendly brand of pocketable video recording devices the company acquired via last year’s purchase of Pure Digital. The inexpensive Flip cameras are so easy to use they’ve turned simplicity into a device feature, and Cisco is aiming to bring that simplicity to the task of setting up and configuring a home wireless network. As Jonathan Kaplan, the senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Consumer Product, explains: “With complementary backgrounds and expertise, our Cisco and Flip teams have combined forces to change the rules for home wireless with a product line that empowers consumers to easily set up, enjoy and manage all of their wireless devices anywhere in their homes.”
The “Valet” part of the name can be traced to a so-called Easy Setup Key — essentially a USB drive with Cisco’s Connect software. Plug it into a PC or Mac and the software configures the device’s connection in just three steps. Do the same to add new computers to the home 802.11n Wi-Fi network.
The new Valet router line starts at $99 and is available at outlets where you’d typically find home networking gear, such as Amazon, Staples and BestBuy. And Cisco isn’t totally abandoning the ubiquitous Linksys name — similar-looking products without the Valet but with Linksys branding also make an appearance today. But they look physically similar to the new Valet line, so the Linksys I grew up with is indeed fading away. At least I can take a little solace in the fact that my home network has valet service now.
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