Linksys joins the Ban Wagon to the 1200mbps race

jasonvillados

Manila, Philippines 17th of September 2014, Regional Managers from Linksys meets the media for a press briefing on their latest product innovation, the Linksys WRT1900AC.

The WRT-1900AC comes with the latest 802.11ac WiFi platform, and has the beamforming technology. It has a 1.2GHz dual-core ARM based processor, and introduces a four antenna configuration which is the first of its kind in the market. It now provides greater range and coverage and allowing router diversity through signal rates optimization for better data transmission to multiple users.

Judging by the looks of it, Linksys has preserved its looks for quite sometime now having that same traditional blue face and black body, LED lights upfront, and at the back are the RJ-45 ports, power adaptor ports and antenna arrays. The only distinguishing factor physically visible is that it has 4 antennas, bigger and longer than usual, and in size its wider and has more depth than the predecessor. This is an off the shelf product that you can buy in malls.

Belkin, who has acquired Linksys, is now the proud owner of this know brand and they continue the WRT or Wireless Router Technology and they just joined the 802.11ac race to speed and performance.

What is 802.11ac?

To simplify things in layman’s term, 802.11ac is an IEEE standard that allows WiFi accesspoints to reach the maximum speed of 1200Mbps or 1.2Gbps data rate speed (they say it reaches upto 1300mbps). It means, under certain criteria, you will be able to run at the expressway at 1,200 km/h while others can only run from 54 km/h to 100 km/h. This is where it makes a difference from the old-traditional Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n. When Wi-Fi started in the earlier days, it was only upto 54mbps. Imagine going 22-23 times faster!

What is beamforming?

Beamforming is the latest technology in Wi-Fi wherein the accesspoint uses the array of antennas to select a pattern that will carefully select a beamform to a user client. Imagine a number of flashlights pointing in your direction. That’s what beamforming is all about. Most Commercial products nowadays have built-in antenna arrays while Linksys has 4 removable external antennas. Though it has 4 antennas, it will still use the 3×3 MIMO (Multiple In Multiple Out) technology.

What’s new with the WRT1900ac?

The WRT1900AC is the first Linksys product to offer the Network Map feature that provides a complete view of all network-connected devices, which when used with Linksys’ exclusive Smart WiFi software allows for easy home network management, even while on the go. The just released WRT is also equipped with the latest in hardware, boasting of a unique dual eSATA/USB 2.0, a USB 3.0 port, and 128MB flash memory, all encased in a sleeker, more modern design inspired by the classic WRT54G router.

WRT1900AC Software Features

WRT 1900AC comes with a pre-configured Virtual LAN (VLAN), it has a browser-based setup for installation from device PC/Mac, smartphone or tablet. User has the option to configure it as a router, range extender (aka repeater) or wireless bridge. It has also the ability to hide SSID broadcast. Setup wizard sets up two SSIDs, one per radio band. Linksys Smart Wi-Fi can be accessed from a browser or the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi app for iOS and Android. You can also share printers or storage devices through USB or eSATA. It has a built-in DLNA-certified media server and FTP server to share files. If you are the admin you can do drag-and-drop media prioritization to prioritize bandwidth for devices, applications or games. Restriction form the router can be done using the parental controls to prevent access to websites or block access during certain hours. The WRT-1900AC is open source capable.

WRT1900AC Hardware Specifications

802.11ac Wi-Fi (backward-compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n)
Speeds up to 1300 Mbps* on the 5 GHz band
Speeds up to 600 Mbps* on the 2.4 GHz band
1.2 GHz dual-core ARM-based processor
Gigabit WAN & LAN ports
1 x eSATA/USB 2.0 port
1 x USB 3.0 port
256MB DDR3 RAM
128MB flash memory
Four exchangeable external antennas

Pricing and Availability

The Linksys WRT1900AC Dual Band Gigabit Wi-Fi Router is now available at Pismo Digital Lifestyle Concept Store, Octagon Computer Superstores, Complink, Villman, PC Express and Silicon Valley. SRP is Php14,990.00.

On a personal note, the Linksys WRT1900ac is designed for Small Office Home Office (SOHO) only. The innovation of having a cloud software to be able to remotely manage has been pioneered by Meraki which is now a product under the Cisco family. Since we are talking about cloud, my main concern would be Security so i asked if they have a Level 1 PenTest (Penetration Testing by a Certified Security Hacking Organization), PCI-DSS compliance and also bandwidth used for that manageability but i have not seen any document on the internet so far.

The WRT1900ac has 2 SSIDs. This is how you configure permanent users using 1 SSID and the other SSID is for your guests. Other brands have 5 to 8 SSIDs which will give you more flexibility. What i would actually notice is that this is designed for the Digital Lifestyle age where video is the new voice and is becoming pervasive nowadays by the younger generation. Yes, it is right in saying that 10 years ago, video wasn’t really thought of being shared for entertainment purposes but only used for conferencing calls for Companies. Now, video is not only personal, it’s a totally new experience. Also, they have opened the APIs to opensource developers to access this at the root level.

My wishlist for Linksys

As they see to have this item stockable, i hope they will consider having a PoE port (Power over Ethernet) to power it up and maybe have a dedicated PoE switch. Belkin and Linksys might want to have a unified controller system whether it is appliance based, cloud or AAA approach so that when it is clustered, it will appear only as a single system. Imagine having one WRT1900AC device that can control 4 or 8 of them in the same location!

Rogue AP detection, Clear Air and Auto-channeling was not indicated. If they have it already, it’s ok. But if not, they might want to consider this as well. Non-technical people who will have to administer and manage their own hotspot accesspoints at home will need this for proper signal and channel planning since most homes and offices nowadays and also new devices have this capability already.

Personal Note

It’s really amazing to have a Wi-Fi accesspoint, a Router, a 4-port switch, a 2-port USB and external NAS connectivity in this device. But would it be able to sustain good performance if all features were activated? Well, only a hardcore testing challenge will prove it. Waiting for a review unit and unboxing to happen.

The price point of P14,990 seems fair for the consumer market.

Eli

Eli has 28 years of extensive IT sales expertise in Data, voice and network security and integrating them is his masterpiece. Photography and writing is his passion. Growing up as a kid, his father taught him to use the steel bodied Pentax and Hanimex 135mm film and single-direction flash, Polaroid cameras, and before going digital, he used mini DV tape with his Canon videocam. He now shoots with his Canon EOS 30D. Photography and blogging is a powerful mixture for him.

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