CES: Netgear Targets 'Connected Lifestyles,' Unveils New Routers

Netgear is looking to take on different classes of techies at CES 2009, unveiling several new home and consumer networking products that hit different segments -- Internet families, serious media enthusiasts and people on the go -- based on how tech-savvy they are.

"We're now taking things to the next level," said Vivek Pathela, Netgear's vice president and general manager of home and consumer products. In the past, Pathela said, Netgear provided the plumbing and the connectivity to build the home network. Now, the San Jose, Calif.-based vendor is building on last year's vision of the "all access home" to "provide users with experiences they can get with a connected lifestyle."

As part of that push, Netgear on Wednesday unveiled a trio of new routers, one of which targets people on the go: the 3G Mobile Broadband Wireless Router, for mobile users who want to bring technology and connectivity wherever they roam. For them, Pathela said, Netgear is releasing the 3G Mobile Broadband Router, a portable router that users can bring anywhere to experience high-speed 3G broadband from any location, be it a hotel room or a satellite office.

The 3G Mobile Broadband Wireless Router creates an instant Wi-Fi hotspot using 3G mobile broadband access services simply by plugging any compatible 3G USB modem to the router, Pathela said.

Sponsored post

The router features auto-detection of compatible 3G USB modems and associated mobile carrier networks to connect to broadband almost instantly. Pathela said it supports SPI, intrusion logging and reporting, denial-of-service protection, up to five IPsec VPN end points and NAT. The router also offers Push 'N' Connect with WPS, energy-saving features and an optional car power adapter to power the router while on the move. Pathela said the router can offer roughly 3 Mbps and up to 7 Mbps of connectivity.

Along with the 3G Mobile Broadband Wireless Router, Netgear also unveiled two more routers at CES in Las Vegas: the RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router, which is the first product to introduce Netgear's fifth-generation design, and the RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Modem Router.

The Gigabit Router is a simultaneous dual-band, 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless router with Gigabit ports and a USB port to network an external USB storage device for access from multiple networked computers. It ties in a 650MHz MIPS processor, high-performance power amplifiers and eight "ultrasensitive metamaterial" antennas for faster wired-to-wires throughput and long-range wireless coverage. Features of the Gigabit router include a four-port Ethernet low-power-consumption green switch, dedicated QoS for wireless video, one-touch wireless on-off and power on-off buttons, and adjustable transmit power for energy efficiency.

The RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router offers Push 'N' Connect with Wi-Fi Protected Setup (UPS) and is geared for prosumers with multiple networked gadgets running multiple applications, gamers, and video streamers that require a high-speed network.

The RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Modem Router, on the other hand, integrates an ADSL2+ modem with a dual-band wireless router into one package, offering double firewall protection and NAT to hide PCs and files from outside users, and a stateful packet inspection firewall to deny outside requests for information. The modem router can also be configured as a wireless repeater to add range. It offers a multilanguage installation wizard, Push 'N' Connect with WPS and energy-saving features. The modem router is designed for users who want a single integrated wireless router and DSL modem device for their growing networking needs.

Next: Netgear Eyes 'Internet Families' And 'Serious Media Enthusiasts'

Another lifestyle segment Netgear has in its sights is what Pathela calls "Internet families," mainstream technology users who are looking to broaden their digital experience. For them, Netgear will release the Internet TV Player, a small Internet-ready set-top box through which users can access millions of Internet videos from their televisions without using a PC.

"Internet video consumption is at an all-time high," Pathela said. "Just in the month of October 2008 alone, comScore estimated that almost half of the total U.S. population viewed more than 13.5 billion online videos. That's a large number of Internet videos that are viewed mostly on PCs, even though many people would rather watch them on their TVs."

The Internet TV Player, he said, is a compact plug and play box with a remote control that delivers Web video content like YouTube, Internet TV, video on-demand and other popular Internet video sites directly to a television. The device works with both HD and analog televisions. It can also stream video from myriad popular sites like BBC.com, CNN.com, ESPN.com, NBC.com, TMZ.com and a host of others, along with enabling users to download videos from sites like BitTorrent.

The Internet TV Player uses a video search engine called VTap to help users find and search video. The device also lets users play video, music and photos from a local USB flash drive or from Netgear ReadyNAS storage devices.

The Internet TV Player is about the size of a deck of playing cards and connects to the home network and the Web via Ethernet or wireless USB adapter and does not require a PC or any PC software. It is expected to be available in early summer for $199.

Lastly, Netgear is targeting at CES the serious media enthusiast. For that group, the company is rolling out the Digital Entertainer Elite. Expected to be available in the first quarter for $399, the Digital Entertainer Elite is a digital media player that lets consumers play digital video, music and pictures on their high-definition televisions, while playing the media from their PC or network storage device. The device automatically converts video to 1080p for high definition. Users can also browse the Web, including YouTube, Internet Radio, Flickr, RSS feeds and video services. The device automatically finds all digital media files on the home network and organizes them into an easily accessible media library, so users can view it on their HDTV, regardless of whether it's stored on their PC, MAC or NAS device.

Pathela said the Digital Entertainer Elite uses Netgear's RangeMax internal antennas for dual-band wireless 802.11n to deliver media at high speeds. It offers two USB ports, so users can plug in a camera, iPod or USB drive. It requires no tools for installation.

Overall, Pathela said, Netgear is adapting to help consumers move past just in-home connectivity and to take the leap to a truly connected lifestyle.

"We've gone beyond just Internet broadband in the home," he said. "These products are designed to meet the needs of any connected lifestyle."