Buyer beware - ASUS "future proof" draft n-based hardware

Buyer beware - ASUS "future proof" draft n-based hardware

Summary: The 802.11n WiFi standard is a long way off being ratified ("sometime" in 2008 is the best guesstimate at present), but this hasn't stopped manufacturers from cashing in on it by releasing hardware based on draft 802.11n specifications. ASUS has taken this a step further by offering purchasers of their Broadcon Intensi-Fi Draft N-based WL-500W gateway and WL-100W adapters a guarantee. On the face of it, it sounds like a good deal, but examine the press release a little deeper and you quickly realize that it's not much more than a publicity stunt.

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TOPICS: Wi-Fi
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ASUS Super Speed NThe 802.11n WiFi standard is a long way off being ratified ("sometime" in 2008 is the best guesstimate at present), but this hasn't stopped manufacturers from cashing in on it by releasing hardware based on draft 802.11n specifications.  ASUS has taken this a step further by offering purchasers of their Broadcon Intensi-Fi Draft N-based WL-500W gateway and WL-100W adapters a guarantee. 

On the face of it, it sounds like a good deal, Call me old fashioned, but I'm sticking to 802.11g for my wireless needs but examine the press release a little deeper and you quickly realize that it's not much more than a publicity stunt.

Like most press releases, the one that ASUS released last week started off well:

ASUSTeK Computer Inc. (ASUS) today announced the 802.11n upgrade guarantee program for its draft-n wireless solutions, the WL-500W Super Speed N wireless router and WL-100W Super Speed N wireless adapter. With countless draft-n products in the market ASUS is the first wireless vendor to announce an upgrade program to guarantee compatibility with the future 802.11n standard, whether in the form of firmware or hardware updates.

"The WL-500W and WL-100W, powered by Intensi-fi technology from Broadcom, achieve data transfer speeds higher than 100Mbps, making it suitable for multimedia streams to all corners of the your home," said Hektor Tung, Director of Product Marketing for ASUSTek Wireless LAN BU.
"With the 802.11n upgrade program, the two ASUS draft-n products guarantee future 802.11n compatibility and give users peace of mind when purchasing draft-n solutions."

So far, so good.  But to get to the good bit you have to keep on reading.

What products are qualified for 802.11n upgrade guarantee program?
    - WL-500W Super Speed N multifunctional wireless router
    - WL-100W Super Speed N wireless card 

Keep going:

This program will cover the units purchased before December 31st, 2006.

RouterWhoa!  It only covers gear bought up until the end of 2006?  That's right.  That means that you have less than a 3 month window in which to buy this if you want to be guaranteed of an 802.11n compatible router or wireless card "sometime" in 2008.  Excuse me, but that doesn't show serious commitment to the draft-n gear at all in my mind.  What's wrong with supporting all WL-500W Super Speed N routers and WL-100W Super Speed N wireless cards irrespective of when purchased?   What I see here is ASUS hoping to ride the draft-n wave for up to 24 months based on this 3-month promotion.  Does this make me want to go out and by draft-n ASUS products?  Nope.

But there's more.  Back to the press release:

When will upgrade program begin?
Upgrade program will begin as soon as the 802.11n standard is ratified and will continue for three months. Warranty will not be renewed.

Did you catch that?  Check it out:

Warranty will not be renewed.

ASUS wireless cardI don't like that at all.  Any 12 month warranty that you have on the wireless card or router will be long gone by the time that 802.11n is ratified, so if the upgrade bricks your gear, you're on your own.  To me, the guarantee now goes something like "We guarantee that your gear will be 802.11n compatible, unless the upgrade kills it, in which case we guarantee you nothing".  Doesn't sound like much of a guarantee to me.

There's also no word as to how these products behave around 802.11b/g gear either.

Call me old fashioned, but I'm sticking to 802.11g for my wireless needs.  If my existing WiFi router blows up between now and "sometime" in 2008, I'll be replaced by another 802.11g router.  As far as draft-n goes, my money is staying in my pocket. 

Topic: Wi-Fi

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6 comments
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  • "Streams to all corners of 'the your' home?"

    Sorry, but wouldn't that be

    "streams to all corners of your home"

    ?

    Two words: proof-read!
    Grayson Peddie
    • Yeah, I spotted that!

      ... Let them proof-read their own stuff ;-)
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • ASUS attempting to profit from a beta test (?)

    With the n-standards still some two years away, any n-based gear probably should be considered beta. It would be understandable if ASUS wanted "volunteers" for n-gear beta-testing, there would plenty of people willing to volunteer.

    To me, this "guarantee" reads like this:[i]
    Buy one of our beta-level test products and we guarantee that by the time the warranty kicks in, you'll have an obsolete paperweight when the z-standard production models hit store shelves![/i] :p
    Mr. Roboto
  • What You Need To Know When Buying Used Hardware

    Refurbished network hardware is the latest thing for hip IT managers who consider themselves ?in the know?. The used equipment is often renovated by various resellers and integrators, reset and error free. They are then sold in the secondary market at up to 90% off of list price. Products are available even in the most sophisticated and obscure models, and often come with a warranty that supersedes even that of the original manufacturer.
    How is the hardware refurbished?
    Networking products usually pass a grueling inspection, upgrade and update checklist. This includes testing under a variety of conditions to ensure that electronics, connectivity ports, memory configuration, firmware/software and electrical components perform to standards.
    What about the warranty of a refurbished hardware appliance?
    Most resellers offer a minimum warranty of three months. It varies with the policy of the supplier. Extended warranty up to two years can be availed from some retailers.
    What to look out for when buying refurbished?
    There is a growing concern in the industry surrounding fake equipment. Anyone who has taken a stroll down Manhattan?s Canal Street lately has no doubt become aware of the thriving market for fake Rolexes, Luis Vuitton hand bags and the like. This phenomenon has recently infiltrated the network hardware market. These fakes, often referred to in the industry as, ?Chisco? (fake Cisco products originating in China), are popping up more and more. Cisco Systems is the largest provider of Internet telephony equipment in the world, and account for some 80% of all used equipment sales worldwide. This enormous popularity has made them the obvious target for such fake product reproduction.
    It helps to have a few tools to protect yourself from fraud. Rule 1 when shopping for used equipment is to be wary of suppliers from China. Historically, most of these fakes have originated somewhere in China. So be careful when dealing with a Chinese supplier. Try to deal with a reputable supplier and develop a relationship. It helps to look for quality business certifications such as ?ISO 9001? and others when choosing a reseller.
    When using online auctions, feedback is king! Make sure you deal exclusively with resellers who have significant positive feedback from multiple people. Take a quick peek at the actual responses and confirm that they in-fact come from unique sources and not all the same person. People have been known online, to buy large inexpensive quantities from one another to essentially stuff the ballot box and artificially flood the others feedback score.
    Who are some of the leading companies in the refurbished hardware market?
    I will breakdown this answer into 2 individual categories. The outlet seller and the full service provider.
    Full service provider:
    These organizations offer a full suite of services for the IT customer. In this model, relationships are formed between the salesperson and customer. The sales cycle can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 year. The customer will usually disclose all relevant information regarding their project or current network configuration. Educated sales people here will assist the customer to make decision about what product or products might best solve their particular business needs. These providers will often offer integration services as well, helping the customer to install the new equipment into their existing set-up. A prime example of this type of sale would be Digital warehouse (hyperlink). DW is a certified NY based full service supplier of refurbished network hardware. Their mission is ?reducing the cost of network infrastructure?, and that?s exactly what they do. With a rigorous reconditioning and testing process coupled with a warranty program that rivals anyone else?s in the industry, they allow you to feel safe and secure that you are getting quality second hand hardware at a great price.
    Outlet sales:
    Online outlet sales have recently emerged as a new trend in the used hardware industry. Direct selling online has become the latest luxury for IT professionals who know what they want or need. Usedcisco.com?s (hyperlink) website is the ideal address for such transactions. They borrowed Michael Dell?s direct approach to selling online and moved away from the traditional consultative sales approach. Basically, assuming that many of these products have become commoditized and listed products and pricing directly on their site. For the first time, an end user could go online quickly and source product at a reasonable price, place the order and be finished in record time. Never once having to deal with a salesperson along the way.

    What is the difference between refurbished hardware and used hardware?
    Refurbished hardware are renovated, reset and fully tested. The term ?used hardware? is often used synonymously with refurbished hardware in this industry. However; on occasion, particularly in online auctions, the term ?used?, may also mean that it has not been tested or reconditioned in any way. Under such circumstances it is preferential to inquire about the specifics before purchasing under the title ?used?.
    Are there any other price advantages associated with refurbished hardware?
    Absolutely! You can expect to save anywhere form 30 ? 90% off list price when buying used. Traditionally people would shy away from used equipment because of the inherent risk that it presented. However, with current competition in the secondary market resellers have raised their quality standards. They now provide guarantee?s that outlast the original warranty given when the unit was new.
    What does all this mean to you?
    This means that most of the risk formerly associated with buying hardware used has been eliminated. With a little bit of knowledge and a touch of common sense you can now enjoy massive discounts on IT equipment, stress free! Making ?reconditioned?, the new way to go for hip IT professionals everywhere.
    Resources:
    http://www.usedcisco.com
    http://www.digitalwarehouse.com
    jlevitt
    • China isn't the biggest problem

      The biggest problem for consumers is neither the vendors nor the importers as the big developers and producers of PC software, hardware like, MS, Asus, Creative is the ridiculous avenues one has to travel down to get reasonable support in a timely fashion. I mean really, does MS really think that I want to try and talk to somebody in India that I cannot comprehend due to his/her lack of English abilities ? Why do they do it ? Money of course, no other reason as it's the only reason MS does anything. Asus is a bit better but they want to know too much about you, your product and make it mandatory to even ask a question. Creative is probably the worst in some aspects as getting through to them is like trying to call up the president.
      It will take a long, long, long, time to get through and then you will be placed in a que which takes a long, long, long, time and then, you will talk to somebody who will refer you to somebsody else which will take a long, long, long time. If you don't get any of this, just give Creative a call and you soon will get it, in spades. For anyone wondering about these 3, just pass on by and save yourself a lot of wasted time, effort and frustration by not buying their products as all three can and could afford much better support but they won't. Nothing more than cost cutting at your expense, plain and simple.
      intrepi
  • Asus beginning to act like MS..

    Anyone here tried contacting Asus lately, it requires you to give your name, address, phone number, product type, serial number, place of purchase, date of purchase, etcetera, etcetera. Needless to say after 20 years of buying and using their products, I've decdided to move on to DFI, MSI or anyone else as this outfit is beginning to act like MS in more ways than I really want to deal with. If Microsoft, Asus or anyone else that wants to force people into jumping through their hoops to ask a question, then it's time to move on as it's apparent they either can't afford to offer reasonable support or better yet, prefer not to. There is no reason why anyone would need all the information they ask for, I mean really, the serial number ! If this isn't a flagrant attempt to get product information feedback from consumers based on a premise, I don't know what else it would be. Hey, MS, Asus, need to know what my blood type is, where I do my grocery shopping, if I'm HIV - or + ? Just add it to your ridiculous list of mandatory need to knows and I'll tell you which ass to look up.
    intrepi