Faster Wi-Fi gear debuts

Routers and gear from Linksys and D-link support 802.11n wireless standard

Networking gear companies Linksys and D-Link are rolling out new Wi-Fi routers and gear that support the upcoming 802.11n wireless standard. The new hardware, vendors tout, have four times the range and 12 times the throughput of standard 802.11g wireless routers. Both companies previewed their gear during the Digital Life trade show in New York City.

Linksys announced its WRT350N Wireless-N Gigabit Router with Storage Link. The router includes a USB port you can plug an external hard drive into. This turns the external storage drive into a network attached storage device. Network attached storage, or NAS, gives you the ability store and share files with any PC connected to the same network. The WRT350N router is available now and is selling at online retailers for an average of US$160.

Linksys also introduced its USB Wireless-N Desktop Adapter WUSB300N for connecting desktops and laptops to a Linksys 802.11n router. Unique to this product is that the adaptor which can either rest on a wired base station for use with a desktop computer, or can be removed from the base and plugs directly into a laptop's USB port. Pricing and availability for the WUSB300N was not available.

Both Linksys products can be used with 802.11g and b networks.

D-Link says it will be formally announcing its Xtreme N Gigabit Router DIR-655 wireless-n router next week. This router comes with a feature called Intelligent QoS Technology that can priorities bandwidth giving things like voice over IP traffic and streaming video priority over Web browsing or BitTorrent uploads. The DIR-655 has a manufactured suggested retail price of US$199.

All of these devices, it should be noted, are based on the draft 802.11n wireless protocol that has not been approved by the industry standards body that overseas Wi-Fi standards.

Lack of an official standard hasn't stopped many vendors from shipping "pre-N" products and selling gear based on a draft of the standard. The 802.11n standard may not be official until 2008, according to experts. But consumers who want to take advantage of faster speeds today can move into the Wi-Fi fast lane with one of a growing number of pre-N options.

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