LAS VEGAS -- Netgear CEO Patrick Lo announced a major tipping point for home wireless networks at the Netgear press conference at CES 2011 this morning, and that shift is headed towards seamlessly connecting home entertainment devices.
Lo continued that home networks now demand a higher level of connectivity that can't sustain any jittering. Everything has to be high speed and high definition.
Netgear unveiled a slew of products to meet this demand, including several new routers, but the real focus was on devices that encourage and enable multimedia streaming to multiple Internet-connected simultaneously.
First up there was the 3DHD Wireless Home Networking Kit ($259), a "jitter-free" streamer that supports the connection of up to four devices (i.e. HDTVs, set-top boxes, etc.) without any change to the existing wireless router set-up. The ReadyNAS Ultra 2 Home Media Server ($399) is a step up as high-performance NAS with a built-in media server, able to back-up multimedia from PCs and Macs (and even TiVos if your storage is full) in one central location. The ReadyNAS Ultra 2 is also DNLA-certified, so content can be streamed to multiple devices simultaneously within the home or even outside the network to mobile devices using Orb technology.
For a more simplified option, the NeoTV 550 Ultimate HD Media Player ($199) supports streaming of full HD 1080p videos, photos and music. As the "only media player" that searches entire home network shares (i.e. computers, NAS boxes), the Neo TV 550 organizes and aggregates content into a single library.
The latest flagship router would have to be the N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router, Premium Edition. Boasting the "highest performance" for AV networks and HD video streaming on the market, the N600 also supports several applications such as Clear Channel (surveys neighborhood to choose wireless frequency clearest), Quick-Start Steady Stream HD (embedded for shorter buffering of HD videos and "best" bandwidth), ReadyShare Remote (allows users to access USB disks and other devices plugged in to an Internet-connected device at home), and Netgear Genie. This new program lets owners manage and monitor the home network, pin-point network problems, set parental controls, view a graphical network map of connected devices and create guest networks. The N600 will roll out during the second quarter for $179.99.