reply to Nick
Re: [HELP] Why Cisco instead other brands? I bought an 871 for the speeds and Cisco's rep. I can only say that I had a problem one night at midnight and with-in an hour a Cisco rep was on the phone with me and fixed it.
The extra couple hundred bucks it may cost compared to other brands seems high at purchase, but the cost to run/maintain drops significantly after a cisco rep fixes your problem at 1AM so you can work in the morning.
Cisco's service level is amazing. But you have to make clear to the rep that you're not a techie and hate tech talk - then they calm down and speak in non-tech terms. Otherwise, its like talking to a Martian. But some techies may dig that!
Especially the new Cisco product lines, they have what is called GUI (Graphic User Interface). This feature enables the Cisco product to be configurable easily via Web browser you already have on your computer (i.e. Netscape, Internet Explorer); similar to other brand like Linksys or Netgear.
As codydog mentioned, Cisco products may cost higher than other from SOHO user perspectives. The reason is that Cisco sees reliability as #1 priority. Cisco products are designed for business-class environment where the unreliable product effect cost higher (or much higher) than the equipment buying price itself.
As example, "network down due to questionable product reliability" is not something that business-class environment can tolerate since the effect can be of $1-million loss.
Now for SOHO users such situation may not ever apply since obviously such big businesses use the high-end gears or products. Fortunately Cisco SOHO products also carry the same reliability as the high-end products have. Therefore now SOHO users can have same reliability with SOHO (much lower) cost compared to the high-end gears.
Not only the Cisco representative can work with you in any condition as codydog mentioned, Cisco support also include firmware upgrade with more and more enrichment. In addition, Cisco offer free network support to suit any network design.
For more info, you can check out this forum's FAQ under "Product and Services" and other sections. You can also go directly to Cisco website for more direct info.