Ladies and gentlefolk, what you see above is a next generation router. According to Linksys, research shows that connected households rank the importance of WiFi more highly than their smartphones, or even sex (PDF), in a finding sure to shake up the bedroom.
To tackle this insatiable demand for fast, wireless internet everywhere, Linksys have just launched their new MU-MIMO enabled router, the Linksys EA8500. Now ,that might sound like a lot of mumbo jumbo to you, but basically what that means is its multi-user, multi-input and multi-output. Huh? Basically, each wireless device is treated as if it has its own router, minimising the reduction in capacity that occurs if users share a traditional router. It sounds like voodoo magic, and it probably is, but the EA8500 is quick.
Let’s talk about some nerdy specs: the Linksys EA8500 router incorporates Qualcomm MU | EFX MU-MIMO technology, which helps to provide up to 3x faster speeds compared to current W-Fi. The combined 2.53 Gbps Wi-Fi speeds (up to 1733 Mbps for 5 GHz and 800 Mbps for 2.4 GHz) help minimise buffering and enable faster downloads. A supercharged 1.4 GHz dual-core CPU and four Gigabit ports offer blazing-fast speeds perfect for heavy-bandwidth wired gaming. Users can attach devices to the USB 3.0 port and a combo USB 2.0/eSATA port for uninterrupted personal cloud content streaming or to share data across their network. The four removable external antennas are adjustable for maximum coverage, while beamforming technology concentrates the Wi-Fi signal to each device for stronger, better performance and increased mobile speed and range.
In simple terms, if you have fast internet and you’re streaming videos, data and more around your network, chances are you’ve experienced the situation where one of your devices uses the network’s capacity, and other wireless devices suffer for it. In Australia, the more likely bottleneck is our connection to the internet (as our luddites in Canberra think we don’t need an NBN anymore), but even on internal networks, bottlenecks can rapidly develop.
Linksys’ EA8500 works to remove those, and it offers stellar WiFi performance; Ausdroid’s home/office has concrete walls, which do wonders for killing wireless signals. In fact, at the other end of the house, our ASUS Dark Knight router can barely send its signal, and yet Linksys’ EA8500 can send a 2.4GHz signal there, and beyond, offering a functional connection half way up the street. While the 5GHz performance isn’t quite so long-reaching, it certainly is significantly faster, and it does facilitate multiple users moving around huge amounts of data.
Where the device falls over a little is its lack of pro-user features; there’s no on-board VPN support (though passthrough is available), and the network settings could be called a little bit simplistic, but all the common, everyday features are there, including DMZ, port forwarding, changing IP ranges, QoS (Quality of Service), media prioritisation and more. Better yet, these settings are made ultra-easy to understand. My mum could set this up.
Having read all of this, you might be asking a few questions. The first is … why is Ausdroid telling me about a router? Simple. We expect a lot from our smartphones, and if we expect that performance at home, combined with a crummy ISP-supplied router, we’re kidding ourselves. Ausdroid is expanding its coverage beyond smartphones and tablets, and into supporting, complementary technology, and a router is squarely within that ambit.
Secondly, how much is this beast? Well, to quote Linksys’ business manager Greg Morrison, you don’t buy a Hyundai and get a Porsche. This is not a cheap router, but it is powerful and to a significant extent fairly future proof. You put this on your network and set it up, and it’ll serve you for years, whereas that $1000 smartphone you’ll be looking to replace in six months to a year. Food for thought.
The Linksys Max-Stream AC2600 MU-MIMO Smart Wi-Fi Router (EA8500) is available at leading retail and online retailers including Harvey Norman and JB HiFi at an MSRP of $429.95.
Better yet, we’ve got one to give away, so stay tuned for a giveaway in the next couple of days.