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October 9, 2005

Review: MIMO Wi-Fi Routers and Cards

Computer Shopper reviews products from six vendors:

Are you disappointed with the range of your current 802.11b or 802.11g wireless network?

Dern tootin!

Are you ready to start a home network and want today’s cutting-edge technology? Either way, you’ll want to take a serious look at wireless-networking equipment using multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) technology.

MIMO routers broadcast multiple wireless streams of data, using multiple antennae, on a single channel. The result is less interference than with routers that send out only a single stream, as well as fewer “dead spots” and better throughput at long range. Many 802.11b/g Wi-Fi networks barely work at an indoor distance of 200 feet, but MIMO equipment can still go strong at that range. Even at a 300-foot distance indoors, MIMO equipment may be able to pump out a usable signal. Plus, MIMO products are backward-compatible with 802.11b/g gear, so you don’t necessarily need to throw away your older Wi-Fi products.

Sounds good, but to get the speed/range advantage you will almost certainly need a MIMO card of the same brand as the MIMO router, because MIMO isn’t really standardized yet. (Of course I have had similar problems in the past with “standard” 802.11b/g, but I digress.) As far as the review goes, the winners were the Belkin Wireless Pre-N Router and Belkin Wireless Pre-N Notebook Network Card, but all were fairly close except for the D-Link offerings which had some problems. And yes, you can get more range and speed, but be aware that products using the final 802.11n standard (which covers MIMO) are coming in 2007 and there is no guarantee that the products available now will be compatible.

Posted at 10:03 am. Filed under Belkin, Companies, D-Link, MIMO, Wi-Fi

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One Response to “Review: MIMO Wi-Fi Routers and Cards”

  1. Cool Tech Reviews » Blog Archive » Netgear Rangemax 240 starts next-gen Wi-Fi standard showdown Says:

    [...] This isn’t particularly new news or limited to enterprise customers since “pre-n” routers are an easy consumer purchase for home Wi-Fi and have been for some time. You just have to keep compatibility in mind with all your gear until the standard gets sorted out. Those of us old enough to live through the dial-up modem standard wars are familiar with impatient manufacturers leapfrogging standards and it was worse for modems because usage was much less likely to be exclusively “in house”. What saves you in diverse environments is the backward compatibility to earlier standards. Also at some point the vendors will also start claiming upgradeability to the eventual formal standard, but it’s still too early for that with pre-n.   [link] [...]

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