That about sums up what I found at this year's Las Vegas
show, which was somewhat subdued over last year's. Most
vendors I spoke to said that booth traffic was spotty, but that
they were seeing the people who they wanted to see. They
also had more time to spend with them, since from what I could
see, there were lots fewer people.
The pre-show and show highlights have covered a
lot of what I saw, so I'll just touch on things I haven't
previously reported, or which need a little more fleshing out.
The big news here was that Linksys is adding
anti-virus and personal firewall features to their entire router
product line. The capability will be
charged for, but I was told that the pricing would be discounted
over what you'd normally pay for PC-cillin and ZoneAlarm
Pro. Roll-out over the entire line will happen between now
and the end of the year, so if you're interested in the capability
and don't own either the 1 or 4 port routers, you'll have to
wait. Let's also hope that they don't break the
existing feature set as they add this capability,
especially since it looks like the latest BETA firmware may
finally have killed off a lot of the problems that users have
endured. (I asked them to consider getting an official
firmware release out soon.)
As I was digging through the press kits, I came across a data
sheet for a BEFN2PE EtherFast Cable/DSL Voice Enabler.
For about $100 (web pricing), this box will let you add
essentially the same Net2Phone capability to any router that their BEFN2PS4
Net2Phone router has built into it. Press release says
"immediately available", but it's not in Pricegrabber yet.
Update 5/21/01 In response to
the queries I received about the previously
mentioned BEFVP41 VPN router, I checked with
Linksys. The reply was a not-too-firm July time frame,
but your guess is as good as mine as to when it will really come out.
Last week I mentioned the face-lifted 4 port Barricade
that SMC is readying for shipment, but didn't
tell you about the delay of the Barricade Pro.
This router, which was supposed to be out by now and add stateful
inspection firewall capability to the Barricade line, hit a
last-minute snag and didn't make it to the show. There's no firm
release date yet, but SMC says that this product is still in the
future product line-up.
In the Asante booth, they were showing their 3002AL
wireless FriendlyNet router and previewing their version
of the Sercomm
SOHO server that SMC is presently shipping (reviewed
here) and that Linksys is introducing as
the BEFS207. Since this box is getting so
popular, I stopped by the Sercomm booth and had a
nice talk with the folks there. They assured me that new
firmware is in the pipeline that will address some of the
shortcomings that I found in my review of the SMC version.
Sercomm said they'll be doing more development and adding more
features to this product platform, and I asked them to consider
adding network backup capability to it.
helpful reader reminded me that I was supposed to see if any cure
was coming for people with DSL or satellite modems with
USB LAN connections. Unfortunately, the answer
is still no. One vendor said that the main problem
is that the routers would need to be able to support connection to
the many different flavors of USB based DSL modems and satellite
receivers. That isn't easy, given the limited memory space
in the routers. So don't hold your breath waiting for these
to show up!
Didn't find much else happening in the consumer
router side of things for non-wireless routers. See the wireless
coverage for what's coming in wireless routers.