The air of uncertainty surrounding the 802.11n draft specification is not stopping vendors from rolling out a raft of what are being dubbed “draft N” networking products this month.
Buffalo Technology, D-Link and Netgear all will have products on store shelves by the end of April, despite the fact that the 802.11n specification is still far from settled and the units now being shipped may not be able to be upgraded to the final version of the specification. The working timeline is for 802.11n to be finalized by mid-2007.
Morikazu Sano, Buffalo's global marketing senior VP, said the market needs to be reenergized.
“The market needs the new technology. It is getting bored now with 11g, and something new will help support ASPs which are falling for 11G, Sano said.
Buffalo started shipping its pre-802.11n combination router/access point and notebook card on April 17 with respective suggested retail prices of $179 and $129. The products packaging is clearly marked with “draft N,” and Sano said Buffalo is making no promises about future ability to upgrade, but the company does not feel this will ward off potential customers.
Brian Verenkoff, Buffalo Technology's product manager, believes that customers looking for faster networking speeds today will be satisfied with the draft N devices, and if they are truly concerned about compatibility, they will buy the next version when it becomes available in late 2007.
D-Link has four products in the pipeline: the RangeBooster N 650 Router, $159 suggested retail price; the RangeBooster N Desktop Adapter and RangeBooster N USB 2.0 Adapter, both listed at $119; and the RangeBooster N CardBus Adapter, listed at $99.99. All will hit stores in late April, but are now available for pre-order from the D-Link online store.
Netgear's offering is the WNR834B and WN511B are available immediately through leading resellers, e-commerce and retail partners nationwide at estimated retail prices of $179 and $129, respectively.
According to the company, the WNR834B and WN511B incorporate Broadcom's InteNsi-fi Wi-Fi technology and will be compatible with InteNsi-fi powered draft 802.11n-compliant products from other manufacturers. They are backwards compatible with all legacy 802.11b/g wireless products.