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Cisco Gives Home Users Valet Service

Cisco is bringing its brand to entry-level networking consumers with a new wireless router product line it's calling Valet.

The Valet is an effort by Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) to mimic the simplicity of its Flip video camera for the needs of home networking users. Flip's parent company, Pure Digital, was acquired by Cisco last year for $590 million. The Flip targets novice users with simple setup and use, the same features that Cisco is now pitching for home networks with the Valet.

The premise behind the Valet product is to simplify wireless networking configuration. According to Cisco, users can set up a Valet device with a simple USB key that configures the wireless network, including parental controls for access and site filtering, as well as management for guest access.

"With complementary backgrounds and expertise, our Cisco and Flip teams have combined forces to change the rules for home wireless with a product line that empowers consumers to easily set up, enjoy and manage all of their wireless devices anywhere in their homes," Jonathan Kaplan, Cisco's senior vice president and general manager of consumer products, said in a statement.

Initially Cisco will have two routers in the Valet lineup. The Valet for small and medium-sized homes is priced at $99, and the Valet Plus for larger homes is priced at $149.99.

Cisco CEO John Chambers has been championing the push into the consumer space as an area of key growth for the networking vendor for over a year.

But the use of Cisco's own brand on entry-level gear for the home is a departure for the networking giant. For the most part, Cisco has used its Linksys brand for its consumer facing networking equipment since it acquired the firm in 2003.

To add further confusion to the branding issue, Cisco today also announced a new Linksys E-series platform. The E-series uses Cisco Connect software to help make it easier for users to manage their network configuration and usage. The Linksys E1000 Wireless-N Router is priced at $79.99, is below the entry-level Cisco Valet. On the high-end, there is the Dual-Band E3000 High-Performance Wireless-N Router, which Cisco is marketing at $179.99 and includes four wired Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Cisco did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new products.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.