Linksys Network Optimizer for Gaming and VOIP

This is a difficult product to talk about. Linksys/Cisco doesn’t have much published that I could find on its inner life and workings. The idea behind it is that it sits between your DSL or Cable modem and your LAN router. It monitors outbound traffic and prioritizes certain traffic like games and VOIP and a webcam for best performance.
As I said, I’m not a gamer and I don’t use VOIP. But a longstanding problem I’ve had is that when I download from the binary newsgroups (I use News Rover, btw) which can be for hours at a time, the ACK packets seem to really slow down all my other upstream traffic like requests for web pages, automated ftp uploads, email sends, etc.
So, having stumbled across this little device at $50 I decided to see if it would help. And it did.
Now it must be understood that this device does not speed-up anything. You are limited by your ISP’s speed offering, it merely helps equalize or level out the struggle by packets from different programs/protocols to get out onto the network.
In my example, when I request a web page, the request doesn’t have to wait as long to get out in competition from the ACK packets being sent by the binary news reader which is churning away at full steam. This means that I don’t have to wait a few seconds for that web page request to get out because the box effectively briefly slows down the outgoing packets from the news reader making an opening for the other data to get out sooner. Since the news reader can be running for hours it’s OK to slow that down when other programs need that upstream bandwidth too. As noted, it doesn’t improve speed but provides a bbetter overall user experience by better sharing what bandwidth you have.
I have heard from a few others who say it does improve the VOIP experience. The difficulty in talking about this product however is that the various algorithms and schemes used to control packet flow are not published anywhere that I could find. So, while it worked for me I can’t say it would work for anyone else.
The box itself (Model OGV200) is about the size of a package of King-sized cigarettes, perhaps a bit wider, and comes with a cable to connect to your modem, and a power supply. There’s a web interface for any minimal setup you may have to do if you want to set the speed manually or have a static IP. It’s sparse and for most people no setup will be needed. The documentation is just as sparse showing little more than how to conncet the cables and how to get to the web interface and what’s in it.
One thing to note is that if you are shopping for a new router, you may as well purchase a model that comes with built-in QoS. That would avoid cluttering up the work area with another box and the admitedly small power supply which never the less takes up another power socket.
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