Think of this as a 4-port Ethernet switch, but with a fifth port, that connects to a Wi-Fi network. It locally connects Ethernet-bound PCs, Internet radios, smart televisions, et al, to a distant Internet gateway via the wireless network bridge link. With the Cisco Linksys Wireless Media Connector WES610N entertainment bridge, you can connect two local area networks (LANs) together via a Wi-Fi link, in situations where Ethernet cables cannot be run between them. For the simplest setup, the secondary LAN, the one hosted by this device, should not have other supplying routers on it. No DHCP. No DNS. The wired devices plugged into the four Ethernet ports on the WES610 receive all these services from the primary LAN, via the Wi-Fi link. The WES610N connects to a Wi-Fi network as a client, and then provides access to the resources offered by that network, on its LAN ports.
We bought this wireless LAN bridge to do just this, so we would have Internet access on the second floor of our home without having to run a CAT 5 cable. While this meant sacrificing some network speed as well as added sluggishness to all net requests that went over the wireless link, the WES610N worked as advertised. We paid approximately $80 for ours; about the same price as a wireless range extender. However, this device does not provide secondary Wi-Fi networks, so you cannot connect to its local side wirelessly. This is the primary difference between a wires LAN bridge and a Wi-Fi range extender. However, if you had an extra wireless access point (WAP) laying around, you could convert this device into a range extender by adding that WAP to its local side. We found this bridge to be a handy networking solution for those hard-to-wire situations, where a bit of speed sacrificing and potential Wi-Fi interference with devices on other networks can be tolerated.
Benefits, Features, Pros, and Advantages
- Straight forward setup instructions. Comes with a well-illustrated startup instructions CD. Linksys also posts a complete users guide on their support website. See the References section below for links.
- Internal antennas. No external antennas to loosen, flop over, or lose.
- Only two buttons and keys. The WPS activation button is the only front panel switch, and the RESET button, well hidden, occupies the bottom / underside. No power ON / OFF switch, as Cisco Linksys designed this wireless accessory for 24 X 7 operation. If you MUST disconnect it due to threatening surge conditions like thunderstorms in the area, it’s best to simply unplug the power cord anyway, and not rely on an internal switch to keep any voltage spikes away from the sensitive electronics.
- Wireless N speeds supported. Connected to an 802.11n (wireless N) network, throughput data rates at this bridge’s Ethernet ports can reach 300 Mbps. However, we’ve not been able to achieve this in our lab. We experience typical bit rates of 6.5 Mbps to 500 Mbps.
- Supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS). You may connect this Ethernet-to-Wi-Fi bridge to any WPS enabled wireless network.
- Dual band support. Can connect to either a 2.4 or 5 Ghz. based Wi-Fi network.
- Bridging function. You can connect Ethernet-based devices like wired Internet radios, desktop computers, and DVRs to your main WAP, through the wireless link established between this unit and that WAP. Excellent for bringing Internet into a remote office that while close enough to receive your main Wi-Fi, is too far away to run Ethernet cable to.
- Front panel status lamps.
- The power lamp glows blinks blue and magenta during boot up, and solid blue after booting completes.
- The Ethernet light, illuminates when at least one of the four back-panel Ethernet ports is connected to a working wired device.
- The WPS Ready light glows when the unit is ready to begin issuing WPS requests to in-range wireless networks. When the WPS button is pressed, this lamp blinks when the WES610N is initiating a WPS-based connection with the hosting wireless network, and continues doing so until a WPS connection is established, or the bridge fails to locate a WPS-enabled Wi-Fi network to connect with. In the latter case, the light glows solid orange.
- Finally, the Wi-Fi Status lamp glows blue only when the WES610 has successfully connected as a client to an in-range Wi-Fi network. It blinks when data flows across that link, and remains solidly dark when the WES610N is not connected to a wireless network.
- Lighted Ethernet ports on back. Two lamps adorn each port; the green one glows when an Ethernet connection is working with the device at the other end of the cable, and the yellow one blinks when data is transmitted or received via that linkage.
- Four Down-Slanted Ethernet ports. These wired connections, located on the back panel, are slanted downward, toward the unit’s base, to relieve bend stresses on plugged in cables.
- Works from any in-range location. To extend your LAN in a different direction, you simply move the WES610N closer to where you need LAN access, such as into a remote office location that is still in-range of your primary Wi-Fi network. Once configured, it will access your primary WAP so long as that WAP remains in range and is broadcasting.
- Virtually portable. Easy to move too. You just unplug it from the AC outlet, disconnect the LAN cables, take it where you need the extended LAN, and connect it up there.
- Provides secured Wi-Fi link options. The wireless link back to the primary Wi-Fi network on the LAN being bridged, can (and should) be fully secured. The WES610N can connect to Wi-Fi nets using the WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security options.
- Popular AC power supply included. Comes with a 12-volt, 1 Amp., positive tip, external switching power supply. Easily replaced if it fails; it’s the Bestec 12 adapter, model EA0121WAA.
- Silent operation. No internal fans to draw in dust and make noise.
- Fast boot up. The WES610N links to the primary wireless network in less than a minute after unit power on. The Wi-Fi lamp shown in the picture above, illuminates when the WES610N establishes the wireless link.
- Easy to use web interface.
Cons, Problems, Concerns, Drawbacks, and Limitations
- Front panel lights very bright and flashy. The Wi-Fi lamp blinks rhythmically any time data is flowing through the connection. And, there’ll be much data flowing if you’re watching a Netflix movie on a smart TV being fed by this entertainment bridge. So, the flashing might distract (or detract) from the show. Thus, if you cannot position this device so that the blue lamps on the front are not visible, you can tape them with black or otherwise opaque electrical tape.
- Not a full-fledged router. This is a Ethernet-to-Ethernet wireless bridge and switch only. It neither allocates IP addresses to local devices, performs network address translation (NAT), nor provides DNS or firewall functionality. Instead, it passes any requests for these services, via the primary Wi-Fi network, to the primary LAN.
- No Wi-Fi network range extending support. As noted, range extension is beyond the purview of this Linksys device. Most extenders provide the Ethernet bridging function, such as the Belkin N600 F9K1106v1 Dual Band Range Extender does. However, many bridges like this one, do not provide extended Wi-Fi network support.
- Cheap construction. The case appears to be made of thin, fragile plastic. Not rugged at all; easily cracked and broken. A solid, heavy metal fabrication impresses us most on all our IT equipment, due to the high shielding against spurious signals it provides, and interference rejection to other devices.
- Pedestal base too small. This WES610N is easy to tip over, as it stands, on its thin side, oriented vertically as pictured above. So, we suggest positioning this bridge inside a protective cabinet or well away from foot and hand traffic, such as behind an entertainment center or couch, or up in a book case. Just assure that good ventilation around it prevails to prevent possible overheating.
- Too few front panel status lamps. Four lamps only; the power-on, Ethernet, WPS, and Wi-Fi status lamps. We’d like to see at least several more lamps on the front, including separate status indicators for the 2.4 and 5 Ghz bridge links. Also, all these lamps should blink or flicker when the corresponding link receives or sends data. The Wi-Fi status lamp flashes most if not all of the time if your primary network is passing moderate amounts of data. Finally, a front panel status lamp for each of the four Ethernet ports would be quite beneficial. The back-panel ports provide these lights. But placing on front panel would greatly improve their visibility and thus, their usefulness.
- No gigabit Ethernet support. At best, the RJ45 ports on the back provide 100 Mbps (Fast Ethernet) speeds. No 1000Base-T. Thus, the wired ports themselves could limit data throughput in this device
The picture above is the Wi-Fi network status web page issued by a configured and correctly operating WES610N wireless bridge. It shows the SSID of the Wi-Fi network to which the bridge is currently connected, along with important stats about that connection, including channel width, current speed of the wireless link, radio band, signal strength, and security type.
This Cisco Linksys WES610N Wireless Media Connector embodies the best of “set it and forget it” behavior. Once configured, just position it away somewhere if you don’t care to look at the status lamps ever, but still close enough to where you need Ethernet connectivity provided by it (office desktop, home theater system, or that computer in the kids’ bedroom). For most casual bridge network users, actually seeing the WES610N frequently is not required. If your Ethernet cables can reach from this unit to the net connected devices you’re feeding, and those devices are successfully connecting to your Internet service, then this net bridge is working fine. We’ve never seen it lock up or crash, and it seems to recover well from primary Wi-Fi network outages. It automatically reconnects when the primary link comes back online. Definitely slower performance than when connected directly to the primary net, but still highly useable; especially in areas where the primary signal is very weak; though your network bandwidth may suffer somewhat in low-signal conditions. This unit therefore, does what it claims to do, and we like it. So we rate it at 92 out of 100. While for all you absolute-fastest speed demons, we always recommend direct connections, wireless bridges like this Linksys Cisco WES610N, can provide decently fast network connectivity to wired devices in places where it’s not practical to run Ethernet cables from your main router.
- Firmware versions tested:
- 1.0.07, build 7, March 18, 2014
- 1.0.05, build 4, August 5, 2011
- Official WES610N Product Page
- WES610N Users Manual
- Wireless LAN Bridges on Wi-Fi Planet
- Where to buy the Cisco Linksys WES610N Wi-Fi Media Connector
- 2015-10-20: Added appropriate tags.
- 2015-09-05: Originally published.