It might be awhile before there's an officially certified 802.11ac standard, but in the meantime, companies are ready and willing to forge ahead with router models based on draft specifications, just as we saw in the draft 802.11n days. Asus is one of them, having just announced the launch of its RT-AC66U 5G Wi-Fi router with greater than gigabit wireless speeds on the 5GHz band.
The Wi-Fi Alliance has begun vetting mobile devices and network equipment for its Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint program, the wireless industry group announced Tuesday. Hailed as a “major milestone” by the Wi-Fi Alliance in its press release, this latest development brings us a step closer to a world where mobile devices will automatically connect to access points—securely at that.
Shakespeare's Juliet famously said "that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," which is good news for AMD, seeing as how the Sunnyvale chip maker isn't allowed to call its own thin and light notebooks 'Ultrabooks,' a term Intel created for a new generation of laptops that follow specific design guidelines, one of them obviously being the use of Intel processors. There's nothing stopping AMD from promoting its own equivalent, but Intel may have a trump card.
Cool features don’t make up for mediocre performance
D-LINK’S DIR-827 WI-FI router boasts two features that our current favorite router, Netgear’s WNDR4500, lacks: a USB 3.0 port and an SD media card reader. Both products are dual-band models with radios operating on the 2.4- and 5GHz frequency bands, respectively. The DIR-827, however, supports only two simultaneous 150Mb/spatial streams on each band, where the WNDR4500 supports three.
D-Link positions the DIR-827 as a media router, optimized for streaming audio and video and delivering exceptional performance for online gaming. It’s the big brother to the single-band DIR-657 we reviewed in the December 2011 issue. Like that model, this one is fully DLNA compliant and features Ubicom’s excellent quality-of-service engine that assigns higher priority to data packets associated with those types of apps.
We expected the DIR-827 to be slower than Netgear’s best because it’s outfitted with only a 2x2 antenna array (two transmit and two receive), whereas the WNDR4500 boasts a 3x3 array. And while the WNDR4500 costs $30 more than the DIR-827, we didn’t expect D-Link’s router to be more than 50 percent slower in most of our test locations (although the DIR-827 did beat the WNDR4500 when the client was in close proximity).
THE REMARK ABOVE is more than a left-handed compliment. D-Link’s DIR-645 isn’t nearly as feature-packed as our current favorite wireless router, Netgear’s WNDR-4500, but the DIR-645 is nearly as fast on the 2.4GHz frequency band, and it costs almost half as much as Netgear’s decidedly kick-ass router.
If you’ve divided your router requirements into needs and wants, and you’ve determined that a single-band router is all you need, D-Link’s DIR-645 is a good choice. If attaching USB storage to that router is also firmly ensconced in your needs column, on the other hand, you should stay clear of this device. While it's outfitted with one USB 2.0 port that is capable of hosting either storage or a multi-function printer, you must install D-Link’s SharePort utility on every computer on your network that needs to use it. And only one of those computers will be allowed to connect to an attached device at any one time.
When Qualcomm Atheros launched its gaming-optimized Killer Wireless-N 1202 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo card about a month ago, the silence was deafening; the component launched without a single OEM manufacturer on board, meaning you couldn't actually, you know, find it inside any laptops. That changes today, as the company announced that Dell's Alienware gaming notebooks will sport the Killer Wireless-N 1202 heading into the future.
To answer Rodney King's question, yes, we can all get along, even U.S. cable companies, a handful of which formed a super alliance of sorts to give subscribers access to tens of thousands of hotspots. Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications, and Time Warner Cable are the five stateside cable companies working together to expand what's known as 'CableWiFi' into more areas other than New York City and central Florida, where the hotspot service has already launched.
Well, that didn't take long. Just a couple of days after Buffalo beat Netgear to market with the first commercially available 802.11ac router, Netgear's responded by launching not only the R6300 Wi-Fi router it's been teasing us with, but also announcing a second, slightly cheaper 802.11ac-enabled router and a 802.11ac Wi-Fi USB adapter.
The funny thing about surveys is you always end up wondering who exactly participated, particularly when the responses are quirky. Perhaps some of you will think exactly that upon learning that a new study of nearly 900 Americans supposedly reveals just how dependent we've become as a nation on Wi-Fi connectivity. How dependent? Well, three out of every 10 survey takers said they simply can't go even just a full hour without a Wi-Fi connection. Exactly what would happen to them at the 61-minute mark is a mystery -- spontaneous combustion, perhaps? -- but what's interesting is just how important Wi-Fi has become in people's daily lives.
Faster Wi-Fi ain't just coming, folks -- it's already here. Just a few weeks back, we reported that Netgear was racing to be the first manufacturer with a speedy new 802.11ac router available on the consumer market, expecting to ship its R6300 router sometime this month. Well, "sometime" wasn't fast enough; we're still waiting on the R6300, while Buffalo announced that its first 802.11ac devices are available in stores today in the form of the AirStation WZR-D1800H wireless router and the WLI-H4-D1300 wireless media bridge.