New Netgear products aim to simplify home networking

Netgear is launching three new wireless networking products that aim to address the problem, perennially discussed at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, of complicated home networking setup.

“Our customers in their homes or small offices should be able to utilize high-speed broadband networking for any application, including communications, information gathering or entertainment, from any corner of the house without any interruption,” said Patrick Lo, chairman, CEO and founder of Netgear. Like the heating system in a house, a home network should work reliably, without much thought by users, he said.

The new products include the RangeMax Dual Band Wireless N Router, which incorporates new antenna technology developed by Netgear. The router contains eight antennas, which Netgear says ensures quality streaming despite potential interference from other wireless gear including microwave ovens, cordless phones and neighboring WiFi networks.

The router also includes new technology that lets users push a button to automatically set up a secure connection between the router and any other standard client. Typically, users must work through a software application to set up secure connections.

Netgear also introduced the ReadyNAS Duo, a media server designed to centrally store any digital media including videos, photos and music. In an unusual feature for a consumer device, the ReadyNAS supports hot swapping — allowing users to remove a drive without interrupting streaming or other use of the device.

The ReadyNAS comes in several configurations, including with 500GB of storage for US$500. An optional second drive in the device automatically mirrors the content of the first to protect against potential loss of data. An even larger version of the ReadyNas can handle 4TB of data.

Users can connect PCs, Macs, HD TVs and IP set-top boxes to the server. It also has a USB port for connecting digital cameras to upload photos and view them on a TV.

Netgear hopes that these new products, possibly combined with 15 others the company is introducing at CES, will address the challenges that many people face when setting up networks in their homes. For many, the variety of wired and wireless technologies, many of which don’t interoperate, have made home networks too challenging to tackle.

For the past several years, technology companies at CES have focused on trying to solve this problem.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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