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Ok, ok, we know that you've read probably all you want to read about Comdex, but don't you want to hear about the stuff that most other Comdex reports don't talk about?  We promise to not bore you with yet another story about web tablets, but instead you'll get the straight poop on the new router and wireless products that will be hitting the shelves shortly.  We also did some digging on powerline networking and Voice-over-IP (VoIP) products and will fill you in on those, too.

Weasel words for the Wise:
All pricing and availability info that follows is the best info that we are able to get, and is subject to change.

Combos are coming!

 

The trend that started with the AsanteFriendlyNET and SMC Barricade combination router / print servers continues, with 802.11b wireless now thrown into the mix. SMC showed the 7004WBR Wireless Barricade, which marries their popular 4 port Barricade with an 802.11b Access point.  The result is a unit that can simultaneously route to both Ethernet and wireless parts of your LAN, as well as host a printer.    Availability is late November and estimated "street" (which includes on-line) pricing (ESP) looks to be about $300.

SMC Wireless Barricade

Maxgate is back in the ring with two new products.  The UGate 3200P is their popular 7 port UGate 3200, joined with a single port print server.  ESP will be about $270 and the product will be available early December (download the PDF datasheet from here).  
Take a UG3200P and add 802.11b wireless and you have the UGate 3300Due out in Jan '01 at a $330 street price, the 3300 will give you more ports than most of the competition and a print server, too!

As mentioned in last week's news item, Linksys is launching a barrage of purple and gray boxes, almost too many to keep track of!  We even found a couple more of them while poking around their booth.    One was the BEFN2PS4 4 port router with Net2Phone. This little number, produced in partnership with Net2Phone (more on them later in the VoIP section), is a 4 port Linky with Net2Phone VoIP circuitry built-in.  You plug a regular phone in and can make Internet based phone calls via the Net2Phone PC to Phone service.  The product will come bundled with a starter pack of Net2Phone minutes. ESP is about $200, with a Q12001 release.

Saw the new BEFVF11 EtherFast VPN Firewall. The VF11 is a high-end firewall that is clearly not aimed at the consumer market at an ESP of $1000.  It's designed to be used with another VF11 to establish one IPsec or PPTP tunnel and can conduct up to 200 simultaneous VPN sessions.  Safe to say, you probably won't be seeing a review of this one on PracticallyNetworked!

In the lower-end of VPN routers we found the BEFVP41 VPN router.  This one appears to be a 4 port Linky, but with a built-in IPsec endpoint.  No pricing info, but it's scheduled for Q12001 release.

No sign of any new NETGEAR routers at the show either with or without Sonicwall technology.  Maybe something will show up in Q12001?

 

Some incremental steps...

Not all the wireless news had the word "router" in it, though.  Buffalo Tech had a good sized booth, showing off their affordable AirStation line, including their new LPV-WL11 Wireless Print Server.  Expected out in December at a street price of about $230, it'll let you put your printer where you want it, which might not be next to your AirStation or other WiFi access point.  The LPV-WL11 supports NetBEUI, TCP/IP, IPX/SPX and Appletalk-Ethertalk protocols (you'll need a PostScript printer for Appletalk-Ethertalk), and can be connected to an external antenna to increase range.

Proxim was showing their full line of RangeLAN and Symphony products.  Symphony is now in the HomeRF (1.6Mbps) standards camp and have new HomeRF certified USB and PC card adapters, as well as their HomeRF Cordless Gateway. Pricing is about $85 for the USB, $115 for the PC card, and $175 for the Gateway.

 

...and a big one!

The news at the NETGEAR booth was pretty interesting.  First the good news: the new Wireless11X product line looks like it will blow the bandwidth socks off existing 802.11b wireless solutions.   NETGEAR's Comdex demo had three multimedia streams (one full-screen video, one quarter-screen video, and one audio) going simultaneously, with no visible glitches or hiccups, all sharing the same LAN bandwidth.  How is this possible, you say?  Start with a more powerful radio, add TDMA for bandwidth sharing, mix in continuous Bit Error Rate monitoring, and finish off with microwave oven interference hardening and the ability to automatically switch to quieter channels if things get too noisy.

Now the bad news: this performance depends on some pretty heavy duty signal processing magic that takes place in the ShareWave devices on the network boards, and that magic makes NETGEAR's solution incompatible with both the HomeRF and WiFi standards.  Don't plan on using this product to surf the web from your wireless laptop either, at least not right away.  The WA301 client card due out in January '01 is intended for desktops, plugging into PCI card slots.  A PC card adapter will eventually be available, but no estimate on when that might be.  Save your pennies, too, because the WA301's estimated Retail price will be $240.  You can trim that to $180 each by buying the WB301 starter kit, which has two cards for $360, however.  Data sheets were also available for the WA101 USB adapter and WE102 Ethernet to Wireless11X bridge. Note that we said bridge, not router.  You'll have to take care of that in another box.

So... expensive, incompatible, but with performance that could set the bar pretty high for the other guys to jump over.  Sounds like an uphill battle to us, but those multimedia streams looked pretty nice!

More wireless, pluggin' away, and more...



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