Similarly to the EA4500, the new EA6500 is first and foremost an N900 router, offering Wireless-N speeds of up to 450Mbps on both 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands at the same time. The EA6500, however, also simultaneously supports the three-stream setup of the 802.11ac standard to offer up to 1.3Gbps when connected to 802.11ac Wi-Fi clients. There are not many 802.11ac clients on the market yet, but it's expected to become more popular next year. That said, the EA6500 supports virtually all existing Wi-Fi clients on the market, regardless of their standards, be it 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, or 802.11ac. (You can find out more about different Wi-Fi standards in this post).
The router's two USB ports can be used to host printers or external hard drives of any capacity. In my trials, this worked fine with drives larger than 2TB, formatted in the NTFS file system (Windows). However, it's best that you get one of those storage devices and printer on this supported list.
The Linksys EA6500 allows for connecting a drive with existing content to the router and sharing that content with other network devices, either via regular file-sharing protocol or streaming. The router supports UPnP and DNLA streaming standards. In my testing, the router took a rather long time -- about a minute -- to recognize the connected drive.
The router also supports third-party mobile apps that can add more to what you can do with the router when you're out and about. So far, however, since Cisco Cloud Connect was released back in June, there haven't been many third-party apps developed for the Linksys EA series. The few that I have tried don't seem to add a lot of value to the routers. Still, the main Cisco Connect Cloud app is an excellent way to manage your home network on the go. The only complaint I have is that it lacks support for streaming digital content stored on the connected drive. Hopefully this feature will be added in future releases.
The Linksys EA6500's storage feature worked as intended. The router was able to provide enough power to run any bus-powered portable drives I tried with it (including a few that weren't on the supported list). It supports sharing data on the drive both the easy way, where everyone on the network has the same level of access to the entire drive, and a more advanced method in which you can create accounts with access restriction.
The router's Guest Access feature, available only on the 2.4GHz band, remains the same and still doesn't allow you to rename the guest network. Instead it'll take the name of the main network and add the "-guest" suffix to it, meaning you'll have to reveal your main network's name to guests. The EA6500 can handle up to 50 guest users. It also supports common features and settings found in most new routers, such as IPv6, DynDNS, a firewall, WPA/WPA2 Wi-Fi encryption methods, and so on. For the rest of the router's features, check out the review of the Cisco Connect Cloud platform