The next upgrade to the Wi-Fi standard is nigh, and Netgear is getting its ducks in a row. Earlier this afternoon, the company released one 802.11ac router, announced another, and teased a USB-to-802.11ac adapter for notebooks.
Starting today, folks should now be able to purchase the R6300, an 802.11ac Wi-Fi router with a top speed of 1.3Gbps and full backward compatibility with 802.11 a, b, g, and n devices (at up to 450Mbps). The device has other perks, too, including Netgear Genie network management tools, a couple of USB ports for printers and hard drives, and DLNA media server capabilities. The R6300's goodies come at a price, though, and it's not particularly cheap: $199.99.
Users looking for a more affordable alternative will have to wait until next quarter. That's when Netgear plans to introduce the R6200, a scaled-back model with a lower price—$179.99—and slightly lower top speeds—900Mbps over 802.11ac and 300Mbps over 802.11n. The R6200 will also shed a USB port, leaving it with just one. Other features and software capabilities will be identical, though.
Also in the third quarter, Netgear plans to release the A6200, a slim USB-to-802.11ac adapter for notebooks (the first of its kind, Netgear claims). The A6200's USB connector will sit on a hinge, so you'll be able to swivel the antenna as needed. And... that's about it, as far as highlights go. It looks pretty elegant, though, provided you don't mind having a USB adapter jutting out of your notebook in the first place. Asking price: $69.99.
The 802.11ac standard uses a 5GHz frequency and 80-160MHz channel bandwidth, which allows for a peak speed of 1.3Gbps (163MB/s or so). By comparison, 802.11n usually operates at 2.4GHz (though it supports 5GHz) with 20-40MHz channels, and its peak transfer rate is 450Mbps. Netgear points out that, because the new standard sidesteps the commonly used 2.4GHz band, it will help reduce interference and maximize performance. The firm expects the first 802.11ac-enabled notebooks to come out either late this year or early in 2013.