LAS VEGAS – Linksys will bring back its classic blue and black router chassis design made famous by the WRT router line for its latest line of home networking devices.
Chris Bainer, Linksys senior product manager, said that when Belkin completed its purchase of the Linksys brand from Cisco, it thought it would be proper to use the historically important WRT line as a model for future home-networking products.
The WRT1900AC 802.11g router is the first of these that will hit retail when it ships this spring at $279. Linksys will follow this launch with additional networking products that use the familiar blue and black industrial design. This will include a network-attached storage device, range extender and eight-port switch. All the devices are stackable to save space.
The 1900AC is an almost exact duplicate on the outside, albeit with two additional antennas for a total of four. However, the difference is on the inside. Like the original WRT54G launched in 1999, the 1900AC uses a open-source Linux operating system, but is updated with a dual-core processor.
The router optimizes the four high-gain antennas by deciding which three are best situated to deliver a signal to a particular portable device and then focusing the data stream through them.
To help consumers visualize their home network, the 1900AC builds a map of all the devices using the network. The map will tell the user how much bandwidth the devices are using and whether they are active.
Linksys will target prosumers, the tech enthusiast and those looking for more range and data speed than can be delivered from their ISP-supplied router.
Belkin is also expanding its WeMo homeautomation product line at CES this week.
The primary introduction is the WeMo Smart LED Light Kit, a Zigbee-based kit that will include two light bulbs and a small Wi- Fi-to-Zigbee adapter. Expected cost is $129.
Ohad Zeira, product management director, growth platforms, for Belkin, said the new products will help address and hopefully correct the slow adoption of home automation by consumers. Belkin’s research found consumers basically saw home-automation products as unapproachable. Zeira said the solution devised was to make them all ride on a home’s Wi-Fi network and thus easily installable.
Zeira believes that once the initial breakthrough happens with a consumer, he will want to build out his home-automation network. This is also being addressed through its partnership with Jarden, the small kitchen appliance maker.
Jarden’s Crock Pot brand will roll out a WeMo-based model later this year, which Zeira also called an excellent entry point for consumers into the world of home automation. The Miix2 hybrid tablet/laptop will be available in 10-inch and 11-inch screen sizes.