Linksys Rolls Out Affordable Wireless-N Gear At CES

The San Jose, Calif.-based consumer and small business networking vendor, a division of Cisco, announced Monday at the International Consumer Electronics Show 2008 that it's adding new products to its roster of Ultra RangePlus Wireless-N products for the home network based on the forthcoming 802.11n wireless standard while also keeping prices on the gear low, ranging between roughly $80 and $130.

In a statement, Linksys Consumer Business Organization vice president and general manager Greg Memo said, "The Ultra RangePlus family represents a new focus on creating products with the consumer in mind, and it showcases how Linksys is taking Wireless-N to new levels of design, performance and ease of use."

At CES Las Vegas, Linksys backed up Memo's claim, when it debuted the Wireless-N Gigabit Router (WRT310N) and the Wireless-N Broadband Router (WRT160N), a pair of wireless routers featuring an enhanced RangePlus internal antenna made to offer aesthetically sleek designs.

Along with the new routers, Linksys also revamped the setup process, introducing a new user interface, flash video-based guided installation and easy to follow terminology for consumers not up to date on current networking jargon. The goal is to help home users easily set up a wireless network.

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The new routers are the first from Linksys to ship with Wi-Fi Protected Setup certification, an optional program from the Wi-Fi Alliance that eases setting up and configuring security on wireless LANs. Both models, WRD310N and WRT160N feature a button that when pressed lets consumers add additional devices to the network by pressing the corresponding button on another Wi-Fi certified product.

The vendor also released its new Dual-Band Wireless-N USB Notebook Adapter (WUSB600N), Dual-Band Wireless-N ExpressCard Adapter (WEC600N) and the Dual-Band Wireless-N Gaming Adapter (WGA600N). According to Linksys, Dual-Band Wireless-N lets consumers enhance networking performance by using the 5.0 GHz spectrum for bandwidth-intensive applications like high-definition video and gaming, and the 2.4 GHz spectrum for all other network content. The USB and ExpressCard adapters give desktop and notebook users broader network coverage, while the Gaming adapter can attach to their console for enhanced Wireless-N speeds.

According to Linksys, both router models are available now through select Linksys e-commerce resellers, retailers and VARs, while the dual-band line will be available soon.

The street price for the WRT310N is estimated to run $129.99 and the WRT160N will come in at $99.99. The WUSB600N and WEC600N will each retail for $79.99, while the WGA600N will be $89.99.

Linksys' releases come just one day after Netgear announced it was beefing up its WLAN portfolio with new wireless-N products.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based Netgear released the RangeMax Dual-Band Wireless-N Router (WNDR3300), a router that costs $129.99, supports both 2.4 GHz 802.11g and 5.0 GHz 802.11n clients, features eight internal antennas, and has built-in four-port 10.100 switch, and a "Push 'N' Connect" function similar to Linksys' Wi-Fi Protected Setup. Netgear also rolled out the RangeMax Wireless-N Gigabit Router (WNR3500), which is similar to WNDR3300 but adds a 10/100/1000 switch with one Gigabit Ethernet WAN port and four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports. That router retails for $159.99.

Netgear also rolled out a 5GHz Wireless-N HD Access Point/Bridge (WNHDE111) and an HD/Gaming 5 GHz Wireless N Networking Kit that includes two of the HD access points for connectivity between home networks and consumer devices like gaming consoles and set-top boxes. The access point runs $129.99 while the kit is priced at $229.99.