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Netgear launches 'pre-n' wireless kit

While we're waiting for 802.11n to be finished...

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Netgear is about to release a whole stack of wireless networking products under the name RangeMax Next to distinguish them from the existing, non-802.11n RangeMax family. It also pledged to ship its Wi-Fi VoIP phone "shortly".

The DG834N is an ADSL modem router and the WNR834B is a cable router - ie. no ADSL. Both boxes have four 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports and use a wireless technology called Steady-Stream, which is Netgear's take on the advanced MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) multi-antenna technique. Steady-Stream will "adapt on the fly to get you connected". Its words, but catchy nonetheless.

In the UK, ADSL products grab about 90 per cent of the market with cable/non-ADSL taking the other 10 per cent, so Netgear is chuffed that it will have stocks of the ADSL DG834N some weeks before the WNR834B. WN511B is the matching RangeMax PC card adapter.

These are pre-n products that are compliant with the draft specification of 802.11n - the full version of 802.11n has yet to be ratified by the companies that agree each new standard.

802.11n adds MIMO to 802.11g and is likely to have claimed speeds of up to 600Mb/second; however, RangeMax has a claimed speed of up to 270Mb/second and is backwards compatible with 802.11b and g.

The RangeMax routers use six internal antennae arranged in two groups of three while the PC card adapter has three aerials. With wireless speeds hitting 270Mbps, we have an odd situation as the wireless connection is potentially faster than a wired CAT5 connection, so Netgear has brought out Gigabit Editions of the routers, all of which have a 'T' suffix, for 'turbo'.

Netgear told us that it considered dumping the 10/100 version, but the cost differential makes it worthwhile supplying both types of Ethernet. The curious thing is that Netgear has also launched the WN511T PC card adaptor in a Gigabit Edition to work hand-in-hand with the Gigabit Edition router. It turns out that the 10/100 models use Broadcom chips while the Gigabit Editions use Marvell silicon.

Netgear also assured us that the SPH101 Skype phone it showed at CeBIT will go on sale shortly for £140. The SPH101 uses a wireless connection to your router and doesn't require you to have a PC or notebook running unlike, say, the USB D-Link phone. ®

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