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Does what it says on the tin - but don't overlook real hands-on
on 11 November 2007
This two-book set is the new course text for the Cisco 640-802 CCNA exam, which supersedes the previous CCNA exam from November 2007.
To compare, having had a look at the two-book set for the previous exam (640-801), Wendell Odom and his team have done a pretty good job in updating this in light of new topics.
What's in the box? Similar to the old exam library, you get two books and two CDs but this time around you also get a DVD. The DVD gives content you can probably get from YouTube, but is worth a look. The two CDs provide an exam tool and 200 sample exam-tool questions, plus an electronic version of the book text. The exam tool is fine, but won't replace using the real thing when troubleshooting. But it is nice that it is included to get you going. Note that this is not the complete set of questions and the full BOSON exam question set is available to download from BOSON and is an extra cost.
As ICDN1 and ICDN2 have been re-worked, the text of volume one now refers to CCENT as the "replacement" to the ICND1 exam and has been revised accordingly. Initial review of the two books is that they are easier to read and digest. As before, they include the usual "foundation topics" and test questions at the start and end of each chapter. Don't be fooled that these test questions will enable a pass if you just know these - you will need to use the text and the real thing if you've not done this before. The previous "open ended" questions are included but have not been revised from the earlier 640-801 library set.
The stated aim is that the new exam is to focus more on design and troubleshooting rather than just facts. This is probably a good thing in that today's networks are more complex. The previous exam probably didn't prepare for the real world where wireless, VPNs and ADSL are in use.
Will these get you through the exam? Given the small industry of self-test and self-help books for CCNA, it suggests that this is but one of the tools needed to pass the exam. The honest view is that as the exam has got harder over the years, the only way to really know is to use the real thing. The two books and additional material are good, but unless it can be learnt verbatim, then you will need to use the texts with real hardware/software.
That said, this is the standard to which other CCNA books are measured.
Five stars for the revised content, but dropping one star on the basis that hands-on experience to back this up will help newcomers.