Our Wi-Fi router died today so I bought a new one on the way home from work. The setup didn’t go as planned.
Since we clearly couldn’t wait for even overnight shipping from Amazon, so I swallowed down my revulsion and went to Best Buy. I emerged with a simultaneous dual band wireless N router with four 10/100 ethernet ports, made by Cisco/Linksys. And at $80 it had enough muscle for the Apple TV streaming, but was still inexpensive enough for my inner cheapskate.
Then the fun began.
I plugged it in, connected the WAN port to the cable modem and sat down with my Macbook Pro and the included CD. Upon launchhing the setup program I was told I could not poroceed because Mac OS X 10.7 or later was required–even though I had 10.8.2. I cleverly downloaded a a newer version of the setup software directly from the Cisco web site…only to get the same error.
Fine. I put the CD in one of the Windows 7 laptops in the house and things seemed to go better. There was a setup wizard. I let it “wiz” and answered all its questions. I got my MBP connected, the two Win 7 laptops, my iPhone, two Android phones, one Apple TV…everything seemed to be going well. But I was unnerved. I’d set up many a Wi-Fi router in my day. This was all too easy, too good to be true.
And so it proved to be. Within five minutes I noticed that my MBP was getting really, really slow internet service. Like it took a full minute just to check my Gmail. Not good. The Windows laptops seemed fine. The Apple TV didn’t work. When I tried to watch a show it told me that many hours of download were required before it would be ready to watch. Usually it’s 1-2 seconds.
I decided to fire up a browser and hit 192.168.1.1 to see what’s really going on up in here.
Sure enough, a familiar Wi-Fi router setup was available. I poked around in it. I shut off all the security to see if that was responsible for the problem. I rebooted the unit. Nothing seemed to help.
Next I went to the manufacturers web site. Which is terrible. I could not find any helpful information, so I chose to chat live with a support person.
After waiting 10 mintues or more, Marie asked me how she could help. I explained everything. I think I probably blew her mind, actually. When she asked for the serial number I gave it to her. When she asked about my network devices and their operating systems, I told her. When she asked me to go to 192.168.1.1 I told her I was already there.
She informed me that I had 90 days of support but that if I wanted more I’d have to pay $20 for their extra support thingy. I told her as politely as I could that if she was unable to help me this very evening I wouldn’t own the device tomorrow and thus wouldn’t be attempting to contact her on the 91st day or on any other day.
She told me the router wasn’t configured correctly. She told me to choose “manual” instead of “Wi-Fi Protected Setup” whatever the hell that is. She had me setup both the 2.4 and the 5 GHz signals differently from their defaults. She also had me choose a different-from-the-default security mode, WPA2 Personal.
And then…everything seemed to work!
Here’s the thing that’s astonishing about this. I bought a Wi-Fi router and set it up according to its default specifications only to find none of my Apple gear worked on it. None. What is it this, 1996? Shocking. Just shocking. I expected more from Cisco.
All’s well that ends well, I guess. But I won’t soon forget the Apple-unfriendliness of their product.