At this year’s CES show in Las Vegas, networking specialist Linksys went big on MU-MIMO. The technology is designed to allow routers to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously, which manufacturers promise will result in faster and more reliable wireless speeds in the home.
While we’ve seen a number of routers ship with planned MU-MIMO support over the last twelve months, manufacturers have resisted enabling the feature via firmware updates. It has taken some time for chipset manufacturers to finalise their implementation of MU-MIMO and, of course, there’s a dearth of Wi-Fi adapters on the market supporting the new technology. A MU-MIMO-equipped router only benefits MU-MIMO-equipped adapters.
Enter Linksys, who this week brought their 2016 Max-Stream MU-MIMO range to market. They’re boasting the first, fully functional MU-MIMO AC5400 Tri-Band Wireless Router, AC1900 Range Extender and USB Adapter. Working together, the new lines offer all of the benefits of MU-MIMO networking.
The Linksys RE7000 MAX-STREAM Range Extender is billed as the “World’s First MU-MIMO Range Extender”, which can serve multiple devices simultaneously. This AC Wave 2 device offers AC1733 + N300 speeds. Linksys boasts that the RE7000 is the world’s fastest range extender in plug-in form, connecting directly to a power outlet. It includes a Gigabit Ethernet port and an Easy Push Button Connect feature for quick connection to your router. Configuration is further assisted by a the RE7000’s Spot Finder Technology, which provides a visual guide for optimal placement in the home.
A new feature to the consumer market, Seamless Roaming, has been brought over from Enterprise networking devices. The technology automatically switches client devices to the strongest wireless signal (either router or range extender) without having to manually connect or lose connection.
Like previous Linksys range extenders, the debutant is equipped with Crossband Technology, which enables data to be received obtained on one band and transmitted on the other simultaneously, resulting in reduced dropped data packets, faster media transfer speeds, and a stronger, more consistent signal throughout your home.
It’s priced at $129.99/£109.99.
Also shipping is the new Linksys MAX-STREAM AC5400 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router with MU-MIMO (EA9500), one of a number of new AC5400 router shipping from manufacturers this Summer. Topping the company’s networking range, the new $399.99/£329.99 device promises combined speeds up to 5400 Mbps – that’s 1000 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band with twin 5 GHz signals offering speeds up to 2166 Mbps a piece.
Powered by a dual-core 1.4 GHz processor, and eight external antennas supporting MU-MIMO connections, the 4X4 EA9500 is equipped with eight Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports – allowing advanced users with creaking network shelves and cabinets to reduce the clutter. USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports are equipped for storage and peripheral sharing.
Linksys’ Seamless Roaming feature is enabled on the EA9500, which they say will be the first router capable of supporting up to eight simultaneous MU-MIMO streams. “Will be” means “not yet” – a firmware update, planned for later this year, will be required to unlock the full potential of the EA9500.
We’ve just received our EA9500 review model and you can expect to read a full review of the router next week.
Wrapping up this week’s launch is the Linksys MAX-STREAM AC600 USB MU-MIMO Adapter (WUSB6100M). It’s the first MU-MIMO USB Adapter available to upgrade your PC. The $59.99 adapter is a simple plug and play device that connects to a standard USB 2.0 port. It’s classed as an AC Wave 2 adapter, offering speeds rated at AC433 + N150. It’ll work with any wireless router, but is optimized for use with other Linksys MAX-STREAM devices.
All three Linksys MU-MIMO devices are now shipping.