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Linksys wrestles with wireless webcam

Tackles 'remote power' problem, still needs a socket

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Just a day after announcing that Ethernet power would drive all its wireless access points in future, Linksys unveiled a wireless webcam - which needs wires.

The new Internet Video Camera, announced at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas this week, will ship in the spring, says Linksys. Unfortunately, although it's a big improvement on the original design, the new webcam still relies on a standard power brick.

Power over Ethernet, or PoE, uses some of the spare wires in a standard ethernet cable to take low-power current to a network device. Two new products, the new Wireless-G Access Point with PoE (WAP54GP) and the Wireless-G Exterior Access Point with PoE (WAP54GPE), allow an installation engineer to set up the AP with nothing more than the cable needed to feed data into it.

The logic of having a wireless camera is that it can be put anywhere there is power, without having to feed it data over an ethernet cable, so PoE would not be helpful. But that does leave the home security expert with a problem when it comes to external surveillance, and the only answer is a battery and a solar power array to charge it up.

The move into PoE marks a border dispute between Linksys and its parent company, Cisco, which has done PoE for a long time. Until now, PoE was seen as a business solution, and Linksys was encouraged to pitch itself more into the home market. However, the small business sector doesn't see itself as a Cisco customer base, and was asking for a Linksys-branded product that had the PoE feature.

"Many of our VARs and small business customers were asking for wireless solutions that had PoE capabilities so they could extend their wireless access to more areas throughout their business,” said Allen Powell, director of channel sales for Linksys. “These access points provide our customers with the capabilities they need to help make their businesses more productive. Linksys currently has more than 70 wireless products in its portfolio and these are the first to provide POE capabilities.”

They are also a bit higher in price than the home-market APs. Estimated retail price for the new interior and exterior APs will be $249 and $449 respectively.

The price is a tightrope. Any lower, and Cisco reps would start to complain about lost business... but any higher would risk driving people to buy Mesh equipment from suppliers like  Strix or LocustWorld.

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