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Dell, Acer tout 802.11n wireless laptops

Will they be compatible?

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Dell and Acer both announced today notebook-oriented add-in cards equipped with a pre-standard version of the 802.11n next-generation Wi-Fi specification. The company's cards provide data transfer rates of up to 270Mbps and 300Mbps, the two firms claimed respectively.

Dell's Wireless 1500 is available now for all XPS and Inspiron notebooks, the PC giant said. The optional extra costs $59. It's based on Draft 1.0 of 802.11n, which has yet to be finalised and formally ratified as a standard. To get the maximum throughput, you need ideal conditions and a compatible base-station - which means one based on Broadcom's Intensi-Fi chipset. With the Wi-Fi Alliance refusing to conduct interoperability tests until 802.11n becomes a true standard, vendor-specific branding is the only way to guarantee compatitibility.

That would seem to rule out Acer's InviLink Nplify 802.11n card, which will ship with its upcoming Ferrari 1000 dual-core notebook. Acer didn't say who's chipset it was using. Neither did Dell, but a Broadcom announcement made the connection. Broadcom didn't confirm Acer as a customer, and the fact it claimed a different maximum speeds suggests the two are not partners.

The Ferrari 1000 will ship sometime in the remainder of Q3, Acer said. Last week, reports from Taiwan suggested the laptop would arrive later this month. ®

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