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Linksys debuts two slick-looking, affordable Wi-Fi routers at CES

Home-networking leader Linksys is following the lead of several other Wi-Fi router vendors with its launch of shiny black MIMO routers. And for the first time, Linksys has moved the antennas inside, like the Netgear RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Router, and it offers one-button setup of WPA security, both nice touches for very affordable consumer routers.
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Written by Rik Fairlie on

Home-networking leader Linksys is following the lead of several other Wi-Fi router vendors with its launch of shiny black MIMO routers. And for the first time, Linksys has moved the antennas inside, like the Netgear RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Router, and it offers one-button setup of WPA security, both nice touches for very affordable consumer routers.

The new Ultra RangePlus models, the $129.99 Wireless-N Gigabit Router WRT310N and $99.99 Wireless-N Broadband Router WRT160N, are based on the 802.11n spec. (Note that they’re not dual-band routers; they both operate on the 2.4GHz frequency range). The difference between the two models is that the WRT310N has Gigabit Ethernet and three internal antennas. The WRT160N lacks Gigabit Ethernet and has only two antennas. Both use MIMO technology but, according to the spec sheet, the WRT310N employs Draft 2.0 of the 802.11n spec, while the WRT160N uses version 1.

I really like the sleek new look of the new Linksys models. This trend toward attractive routers was started last year by Belkin with its slick-looking N1 Vision and is now trickling down to other vendors. The only caveat with this form factor is that if you later need to add a high-gain antenna, you won’t be able to. That’s because the antennas are interior, and they’re nondetachable.

Linksys says it has spruced up the interface for the router administration (I’ve always thought Linksys’ interface was among the best, so I look forward to seeing the improvements), and has improved the flash-based installation guide. Better yet, these are the first routers from Linksys to ship with one-button Wi-Fi Protected Setup, which enables users to easily set up and configure robust security. After doing so, they can add other wireless devices to the network with the push of a button.

Look for both models soon at major e-tailers.

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