CES - Wi-Fi products trickle in at CES

Wireless networking didn't quite steal the show at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), but one or two vendors were here to show new products based in the 801.11b standard, also known as Wi-Fi. Meanwhile, at least one vendor offered a glimpse at upcoming products based on the next version of the specification which promises much higher connection speeds.

As of this week 232 wireless networking products had been certified Wi-Fi compliant, and were on offer from 61 companies listed with the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA), which ensures that competing Wi-Fi products will interoperate, WECA said in a statement. The 802.11b standard can transfer data at speeds of up to 11M bits-per-second (bps).

"We're seeing all kinds of devices," said WECA spokesman C. Brian Grimm. "PC Cards, access points, residential gateways, even USB (Universal Serial Bus) devices."

While few new products were launched here, Grimm said companies that gain certification for one product usually submit more. For example, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has five products certified and is sending more through the process, he said. Other examples include Intel Corp., with about a dozen products certified.

Irvine, California-based The Linksys Group Inc. showed its upcoming Instant Wireless Ethernet Workgroup Bridge, which connects to any device that has an Ethernet port using a CAT-5 cable. Once connected to the bridge, the device can now send and receive data wirelessly through a Wi-Fi access point positioned elsewhere in the home or office, said spokeswoman Diana Ying.

The bridge will bring wireless connectivity to devices including PCs, printers, Internet appliances and even gaming consoles such as Microsoft Corp.'s XBox, Ying said. Scheduled for release early in the second quarter, the bridge will be priced at US$149.

Linksys also showed its Instant Wireless Presentation Gateway, which allows any user with a standard Wi-Fi access card send data straight to a projector, or any other VGA (Video Graphics Array) display, Ying said. That should eliminate the need for users to individually connect their laptop computer to a display when they want to give a presentation at a meeting. Users are assigned a designated "hot-key" combination, such as Control-A, which they enter when it's their turn to present. The WPG11 will be released in the second quarter, priced at $299, Ying said.

Actiontec Electronics Inc. launched its Wireless-Ready DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) Gateway, which connects to the Internet using DSL at up to 8M bps and allows data to be shared among PCs over both a Wi-Fi network and a 10/100M bps network, the company said. The gateway also comes with a basic firewall for security. The product was made available to manufacturers Friday, although it wasn't clear yet who would offer the product.

One company trying to stay ahead of the game was D-Link Systems Inc., which showed a PC card adapter and access point based on the next version of Wi-Fi, dubbed 802.11a. (Confusingly, 802.11a is the successor to 802.11b, despite what the name suggests). WECA won't start certifying 802.11a products until June or July, but vendors were eager to show their new wares nonetheless.

There are pros and cons to 802.11a, D-Link sales engineer Thomas O'Neill said. The big plus is that the newer standard will offer a far greater data transfer speed. 802.11b operates at a frequency of 2.5GHz and has a bandwidth of 11M bps, while 802.11a will operate at around 5GHz and operates at almost five times that speed, at up to 54M bps, O'Neill said.

The higher frequency should mean the newer standard incurs less interference from devices such as cordless phones, which also operate at 2.5GHz range. However, higher frequencies tend not to travel as far and have trouble passing through solid objects, like walls.

There is also an issue of distance. 802.11b can connect devices up to 300 feet away indoors, and 900 feet outdoors, D-Link's O'Neill said. However, 802.11a is expected to reach only about half that distance, O'Neill said.

"Using 802.11a will probably be more for (indoor) use, while 802.11b can be used to connect different buildings," he said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Douglas F. Gray

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?