LAS VEGAS--Belkin's Linksys division took the wraps off a host of new networking gear at CES on Sunday, including two new Wi-Fi routers, a new NAS box, two new range extenders, antenna upgrades for its existing routers, and--at long last--an open-source Wi-Fi driver for its lauded WRT1900AC router (as part of a new firmware release available here). With a couple of exceptions, all the other new products will be available this spring.
New offerings in the Linksys WRT line
The Linksys WRT1200AC is a new dual-band, 802.11ac, 2x2 Wi-Fi router with an integrated four-port gigabit ethernet switch and two removable antennas. Like its bigger sibling, the WRT1900AC, this model will feature a retro industrial design that recalls the famous WRT54G, and it will be outfitted with USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and eSATA ports for sharing a printer and storage on its network.
"The new WRT1200AC router enables us to cater to an audience that want all the benefits of a WRT router but at more friendly price point," Linksys VP of product management Mike Chen said in a press release. Linksys says this router will sell for $180.
Linksys is also showing a new network storage bay that can be stacked beneath a WRT router or the SE4008 eight-port gigabit switch. The WRT Network Storage Bay can accommodate two SATA hard drives with support for RAID 1 mirroring for automatic redundancy.
The enclosure also features one eSATA and one USB 3.0 port so you can connect additional external storage. This product will cost $130. You'll obviously need to provide your own hard drives.
The final new product in the WRT line is a four-pack of high-gain, omni-directional antennas (7dBi on the 5GHz band and 3dBi on the 2.4GHz band) that Linksys says should deliver up to a 30-percent increase in coverage. The antenna pack will cost $130.
Linksys EA8500 MU-MIMO Router
The EA8500 will be Linksys' second MU-MIMO (multiple user-multiple input/multiple output) router following the E8350. The EA8500 is designed to permit multiple users to stream high-resolution video simultaneously, with 802.11ac throughput up to 1733Mbps and 802.11n throughput up to 800Mbps (although you'll likely need a very specific Wi-Fi adapter to reach that speed on the 2.4GHz frequency band).
The EA8500 will be outfitted with a four-port gigabit ethernet switch, one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port, plus eSATA. It is slated to cost $280.
Wi-Fi range extenders
Every router manufacturer I talk to tells me range extenders are selling like hotcakes--Linksys says its sales in this category have increased 96 percent since June of 2014--so it's no surprise that the company will be offering new models comes this spring. According to Linksys, its RE4100W Wi-Fi range extender can increase the wireless range of an existing router up to 7500 square feet.
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