We haven't paid much attention to HomeRF(HRF) products lately due
to their 1.6Mbps speed vs. 802.11b/WiFi products' 11Mbps rate.
But we saw some interesting HRF-based new products at the show and
got some info about HRF that made us think that the wireless standards
battle isn't over yet!
SimpleDevices was a little hard to track down since
they didn't have their own booth, but finding them was worth
it! Their product line is built around HomeRF and
consists of: SimpleFi
($200 list), which lets you play MP3 files over your
normal FM stereo boxes; SimpleClock
($300 list), which also plays MP3s, but can sync to
your PIM and also display small graphics such as weather
report maps; and SimplePad
(no price available), which can connect your PalmV into
your wireless LAN and even play MP3's and Internet Radio!
Look for their products in late Q2 2001.
We also finally got our hands on a real, live web
pad, the Siemens
Gigaset 4600 SIMpad. Although it was demonstrated using
a HomeRF wireless connection, the radio installs into a PCMCIA slot
and could be changed to use another standard. Siemens believes,
however, that HomeRF will be a winning technology, especially in
light of the developments coming in the second half of 2001.
Which brings us to the big story in HomeRF...
Coming this Summer to a store near you will be HomeRF 2.0 products.
Aimed squarely at the competing WiFi standard, the new spec closes the gap on
many of HomeRF's present weaknesses and pushes ahead with a few advantages of
its own. Here's a summary of what's coming
10 Mb/ s peak data rate with fallback modes
of 5 Mb/ s,1.6 Mb/ s and 0.8 Mb/ s
Backwards-compatibility with installed base
of HomeRF 1.2 devices operating at 1.6 Mb/ s and 0.8 Mb/ s
Simultaneous host/ client and peer/ peer connectionless
Up to 8 simultaneous prioritized streaming media
sessions for audio, video, one- way or two- way
Up to 8 simultaneous toll-quality two-way cordless
voice connections (4 handsets initially)
In addition to the above, HomeRF boasts built-in support for
simultaneous voice and data (instead of 802.11b's voice support via
VoIP), better immunity to microwave oven interference, lower
power consumption, and cheaper chip set pricing.
Finally, the 2.0 version spec standardizes roaming procedures
so that HomeRF clients will be able to move from Access Point to Access Point in
larger networks, just like their 802.11b cousins.
Of course, WiFi has a lot of
momentum behind it and product prices are dropping fast, so it remains to be
seen whether these improvements can kick HomeRF into the passing lane.
Next: PowerLine Punch-Out and
some dental work