Cisco contacted us with jubilation over a router, but now we can kind of see why. The company has pulled in design experts from its recently-acquired Flip for what it's banking on is a much simpler and friendlier user experience, from the packaging to the set up and maintenance menus, with a new lineup of routers it's calling Valet. The hardware itself is not too shabby -- it'd probably be quite inconspicuous in a Tomorrowland exhibit -- but the internals are nothing mind-blowing. Both the Valet and Valet Plus offer 2.4GHz Wireless N, while the latter model boasts a longer range and a quartet of Gigabit ports (the standard only uses 10/100).
Eschewing the usual CD installation key is what Cisco's calling the USB Easy Setup Key. Similar idea to the other routers, just plug in and install the software. After two clicks of the menu, it auto-located our Valet and connected to a newly-minted, protected wireless service (in this case "BusyFish") with the password saved in our keychain. Adjusting guest access and parental controls are easy enough, and nice part of the USB key is that you can write the settings onto it, letting you simply plug it into another computer and auto-load the settings. Manual controls are still available and should be fine for most readers. Nothing mind-blowing, but for the audience Cisco's targeting, it's definitely a step in the right direction. According to Cisco, availability is "immediately" and prices are $100 for Valet and $150 for Valet Plus. Press release and oodles (yes, oodles) more pictures after the break.