By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Home phone and electronic education device maker VTech will jump into the wireless and wired home networking category this week with the launch of a series of AT&T Plug & Share branded products.
Mark Adams, VTech's networking products VP, said about six SKUs of 802.11g and a similar number of Ethernet products should be on store shelves by mid-January, along with various networking accessories like cables. Grabbing share in this crowded and competitive category will be no easy chore, Adams admitted, but he believes the combination of VTech's retailer relationship and the AT&T brand name should give it a fighting chance.
VTech licensed the brand from AT&T, but is doing all the product development work internally and manufacturing the devices in Asia. VTech also plans to work with AT&T to offer consumers additional services, like broadband access, which will dovetail nicely with VTech's networking and phone products, Adams said. He added that the company is interested in getting into voice over IP business at some point.
The focal point of VTech's CES introductions is its 802.11g products. The flagship product is the 6800G wireless router. It has WPA security, parental controls, firewall protection, four RJ45 LAN ports, one RJ45 WAN port and comes with free 24-hour telephone and online support.
The last feature is one that VTech believes is very important for networking products. Adams said consumers are excited about the potential offered by home networking, but are still apprehensive about the technology so an extensive support system is needed.
The 802.11g line will be fleshed out with the 6600G USB adapter, $89 suggested retail price, the 6500G PCI adapter, $79, and the 6700G-notebook adapter card, $79.
The Ethernet products follow the same roadmap as the 11g line. These are led by the 3800 wired router, $59, the 3700 notebook adapter, $39, PCI version, $24 and USB 1.1 and 2.0 adapters with respective suggested retails of $39 and $29. These will ship along with the 11g products.
VTech will also offer a line of networking accessories under the AT&T name.
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